Lawyers for Hadden Clark continued yesterday to press Michele Dorr's father on comments he made after her disappearance in 1986, suggesting that Carl Dorr had incriminated himself in her presumed murder.
On the third day of Clark's trial in the child's slaying, Carl Dorr testified that he was the initial suspect after his daughter vanished. He also conceded that he had made some dubious comments in the months after her disappearance, including telling his estranged wife that their daughter might be hidden in the crawl space behind the basement of his Silver Spring home.
Dorr insisted that those comments were the delusions of a grieving father suffering a nervous breakdown rather than the confessions of a parent who had killed his 6-year-old daughter.
Clark's lawyer, Brian Shefferman, continued his cross-examination of Dorr, asking whether Dorr had laughed during an interview with detectives shortly after Michele vanished.
"I did not laugh," Dorr said. "It was not a laughing situation."
Did he remember telling Michele's mother, Dee Dee Appleby, that if police found Michele he would "be behind bars" for the rest of his life?
"I don't recall saying that," Dorr said.
Prosecutors followed up by presenting testimony from a Montgomery County police detective who said he searched the crawl space in Dorr's basement and found nothing unusual.
Michele was last seen playing in the back yard of her father's home on May 31, 1986, though Dorr said he is "vague" on exactly when he last saw her because he was not keeping close track of the time.
Prosecutors have argued that Clark, who is serving a 30-year prison sentence for the 1992 murder of a young Bethesda woman, discovered Michele in his niece's bedroom, two doors down from Dorr's house, and cut her across the chest. Her body has never been found.
Clark's lawyers say he was at work that afternoon and played no part in Michele's disappearance. Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Michael D. Mason rejected a request by prosecutors yesterday to let the jury visit the bedroom where they believe Michele died.