An attorney for Dr. David K. Davoudlarian, the Annandale gynecologist accused in a civil lawsuit of strangling his wife, yesterday told the jury that will decide the suit that Davoudlarian is "insensitive, "a fool," "an ass" and "a boor" -- "but not a cold-blooded strangler."
In his hour-long closing argument following a three-week trial of the suit in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Plato Cacheris shouted, pounded the podium and slammed transcripts of Davoudlarian's testimony down on a table while disputing the case presented against his client.
The seven-member jury is scheduled to begin deliberations this morning in the suit filed against the doctor by the estate of his wife, Susan S. Davoudlarian.
The estate is seeking $10 million in damages to divide among the dead woman's three children, two of whom are from a previous marriage.
Those children were in the crowd of spectators that yesterday overflowed the largest courtroom in the Fairfax County Courthouse.
At one point in the plaintiff's closing argument, Stanley P. Klein, an attorney for the estate, was talking about the Davoudlarians' 12-year-old son, David. He whirled around, pointed at the doctor and shouted: "Little David had his mother taken away from him by that man over there!"
No one has ever been charged with killing Susan Davoudlarian, and police have said there is insufficient evidence to do so. Fairfax County prosecutor Robert F. Horan Jr., who has not attended the trial of the civil suit, told a reporter yesterday, "I can tell you before there is a verdict [in the suit] that it doesn't matter at all what this jury does [in determining the future of the investigation of the death] because it's apples and oranges. There is not one piece of evidence [produced at the trial] that we did not know about."
Cacheris referred to testimony about two extramarital affairs Susan Davoudlarian had, and said his client was "faithful, a fool taken advantage of." Referring to testimony about public displays of temper from Davoudlarian, he said: "Did he act like an ass? Did he act like a boor? Of course he did."
Despite Susan Davoudlarian's "All-American woman" image, Cacheris said, she was "greedy . . . a woman who boasted of being a nymphomaniac . . . deceitful, conspiratorial -- all those adjectives apply."
Attorneys for the estate, Cacheris said, "must convince you that David K. Davoudlarian killed his wife . . . . They have painted David Davoudlarian as arrogant, as rude, as a strict father, as insensitive. But they have not proven, nor could they prove, that he is a killer."
The nude body of Susan Davoudlarian, 40, was found on June 12, 1983 wedged beneath the turned-down back seat of her station wagon, which was parked in the long-term lot at Dulles International Airport. She had disappeared from the family home eight days before.
Davoudlarian, 49, who testified for three days this week, emphatically denied any involvement in the death of his wife, whom, he said, he "loved very much."
He also testified that publicity about the case has reduced his $200,000-a-year income by 70 percent.
Klein, in his two-hour closing argument, reviewed 25 instances in which Davoudlarian's testimony conflicted with that of other witnesses, some of whom testified in his defense.
Klein also emphasized that Davoudlarian refused to talk to police after reporting his wife's absence to them the day she disappeared. The doctor testified Tuesday that he "relied on the Fairfax County police and the FBI. They are the professionals."
"Who else involved has refused to fully cooperate in the police investigation?" Klein asked. "Everyone has fully cooperated except David K. Davoudlarian. It is the wife of Dr. Davoudlarian who is dead, and he doesn't want to have anything to do with the police. David K. Davoudlarian is not talking to the police, because he knows he has everything to lose and nothing to gain."
The couple went out for drinks the night before Susan Davoudlarian disappeared, Klein said, "so he could put four drinks in her, so when he got home she would be knocked out and he could do what he did as easily and quietly as possible."
During the week his wife was missing, Klein said, Davoudlarian made only "token" efforts to find her. He cited testimony that it took him only 18 minutes to make her funeral arrangements.
"Use your common sense," Klein said. "If someone you loved 'very very much' was missing, how would you react? Would you sit back like Dr. Davoudlarian did? . . . . That's not the way a normal person would react, and that's not the way Dr. Davoudlarian would react -- unless he knew what had happened."
Citing $374,000 worth of insurance the doctor purchased on his wife's life during the last four months she was alive, valuable property they owned jointly and Susan Davoudlarian's love affairs, Klein told the jury: "Those are all reasons why Dr. Davoudlarian could have killed his wife."
Klein urged the jurors to "punish" Davoudlarian by imposing punitive damages since criminal penalties are not available in a civil suit.
"Make it clear that we will not tolerate this type of conduct, that if somebody does something like this in Fairfax County, he is going to pay the price," Klein said.
Cacheris argued that Davoudlarian "is being vilified in this case for not going back to the police, for hiring an attorney . . . . That doesn't prove anything.
"He told his story here" -- and Cacheris thumped three volumes of deposition testimony -- "and there" -- he whirled and pointed to the empty witness stand.
"He didn't have to testify in this case, but he did. With all his warts, all his faults, he did it," Cacheris said. "And he was not the perfect witness, but on the key essentials, he is unshaken."
Davoudlarian sat expressionless, his arms draped over the back of his chair, and listened attentively as the attorneys made their arguments to the jury.