Attorneys for the estate of Susan Davoudlarian, who was found strangled in June 1983, concluded their case yesterday against her gynecologist husband, who they allege killed her, by reading jurors his sworn testimony about her death.
The attorneys sought to contrast the testimony of Dr. David K. Davoudlarian, given in pretrial depositions, with the version of events given by a parade of witnesses who have testified in the unusual $10 million civil lawsuit brought by the estate.
There are no known witnesses to Susan Davoudlarian's killing and no physical evidence has been discovered leading to her killer; no one has been charged in the death. Most of the testimony from 44 witnesses over six days in the suit being tried in Fairfax County Circuit Court concerned the state of the Davoudlarians' marriage and her husband's reactions to her disappearance and death.
The nude body of Susan Davoudlarian, 40, was found wedged beneath the folded-down back seat of her station wagon parked in the long-term lot at Dulles International Airport eight days after she disappeared from the Davoudlarians' Annandale home, where police say they believe she was killed.
Davoudlarian, 49, who denied in the depositions having any involvement in or knowledge of his wife's death, appeared in good spirits yesterday as the plaintiffs concluded their case against him. His attorneys can begin presenting his defense today.
Emerging from the courtroom during an afternoon break, Davoudlarian was greeted by a friend who asked how he was. "I'm doing great!" he replied.
Moments later he approached two reporters who have been covering the trial and chatted amiably with them, offering to play "literary critic" after the trial concludes.
In his pretrial depositions, read to the nine jurors yesterday, Davoudlarian maintained that he and his wife "got along well. I was happy. She was happy. Everything was going along smoothly."
Several witnesses who testified for the estate described the marriage as rocky and punctuated by public arguments and said that Susan Davoudlarian was profoundly unhappy and had asked her husband for a divorce.
In his deposition, Davoudlarian also said he "never had any reason" to accuse his wife of having an affair and had not done so.
A neighbor of the Davoudlarians testified at the trial that at a dinner party in the fall of 1980 Davoudlarian angrily accused his wife of having an affair with another neighbor. Two witnesses testified they had had affairs with her.
A witness testified Tuesday that hours after reporting his wife missing, Davoudlarian gave a dinner party at which he was "joking around and laughing." Some other witnesses have testified that Davoudlarian went about life as usual, taking his son camping and going to work as he always did.
One of the last witnesses to testify yesterday for the estate was Gail Safeer, a neighbor who said she got a telephone call from Davoudlarian when he was vacationing in the Florida Keys after his wife's funeral.
"He asked how I was," Safeer testified, "and I told him I hadn't been sleeping at all well. And he said, 'Well, I've been sleeping just fine. My conscience is just fine.' "
Stanley Klein, one of the attorneys for the estate, read the jurors a portion of Davoudlarian's deposition in which he was asked if he had ever parked a car in the long-term lot at Dulles.
"You mean my car?" Davoudlarian responded.
"Any car," he was asked.
"Any car? I can tell you one thing," he replied. "I didn't park Susan's car over there."