Attorneys representing Stanislaus County are aggressively prying into the personal lives of a slain locksmith and his widow to prove that he preferred spending time with his computer and his mother rather than with his wife, court documents suggest.
Private information also could shed light on the locksmith’s “level of experience and knowledge about risks” associated with evictions before he was killed alongside a deputy sheriff at a Modesto fourplex in April 2012, a brief says.
A legal dispute over the county’s “invasive” approach, as a judge once called it, may be resolved without further refereeing in court, according to papers that provide a peek at the county’s strategy.
Glendon Engert, 35, and Deputy Bob Paris, 53, were felled by assault rifle bullets fired from inside the Chrysler Drive home, sparking a lengthy standoff that ended in an inferno and gunman Jim Ferrario’s suicide. Engert’s widow and parents sued the county, noting that two investigations found fault with the Sheriff’s Department because of warnings about Ferrario’s instability and military-grade weapons.
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A judge in October allowed county lawyers a look at three years of mental health and marriage counseling records of Glendon and Irina Engert, saying the documents could help determine the scope of her loss and set a value on his lost income. County lawyers also have sought to probe the couple’s bank records and birth control and fertility history, as well as electronic devices including computers, cameras and cellphones.
The Engerts’ attorney argued that the county’s “kitchen sink” approach grossly violates the right to privacy of Irina Engert.
The county must convince future jurors “that while Glendon was at home, most of his time was spent playing online games and poker as compared to time spent with Irina Engert,” a document reads. Attorneys want to see if his computer use included “searches related to online dating websites” and “divorce, depression and/or suicide,” the paper says.
Pretrial depositions suggest that Glendon Engert enjoyed “Galaxy Online,” a space strategy game, two or three hours a day, and “occasionally made money” playing online poker with FullTilt.com and other games at WorldWinner.com. His widow testified that gaming, often including his mother, consumed “several hours” each night, a document says.
In January 2013, his mother, Anne Engert, told The Modesto Bee that she had played online poker while chatting on the telephone with her son from 1 to 5 a.m. four days before he was killed.
County attorneys on Wednesday dropped a request that a judge compel various banks to cough up records of seven accounts, a notice reads.
Both sides now “are generally in agreement” about other demands since the county agreed to narrow its search to five years before the shootings, and to allow the Engerts to hire “their preferred forensics company” to probe the locksmith’s computer, the paper reads.
A judge in federal court in Fresno two weeks ago agreed that all parties must keep secret the mental health and marriage counseling records of Glendon and Irina Engert. The judge previously accorded the same treatment to personnel records for employees of the Sheriff’s Department.
A trial is scheduled for August.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2390.