Chiesa tape will be played at trial

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By MIKE MORRIS

Among evidence jurors at Peter Chiesa's upcoming double murder trial will hear is a tape of Chiesa talking to his wife about the killings.

A recorded conversation between the 65-year-old defendant and his wife, Donna, was discussed at length during a hearing yesterday at Calaveras County Superior Court. The conversation was recorded 11 months after the shooting deaths of Annette Truman, 41, and Leslie Hannameyer, 42, in June 2002.

Chiesa, a Wallace resident, faces two counts of first-degree murder in connection with those deaths.

Clyde Blackmon and Emily Doringer, Chiesa's Sacramento attorneys, said the "emotionally charged" statements aren't relevant to the case.

But Calaveras County Deputy District Attorney Seth Matthews said jurors should hear the taped conversation because it shows that Chiesa acted out of malice and intended to harm the two women.

The tape indicates that Chiesa was "disgusted" with life and showed no remorse for the deaths of Truman and Hannameyer, said Blackmon, who called the tape "very highly prejudicial."

However, visiting Judge Thomas Smith ruled that the tape will be played, though a portion of the conversation during which Chiesa said Blackmon "condemned and abandoned" him will be omitted.

Matthews said because the conversation was recorded nearly a year after the deaths, it would show that Chiesa had time to think about the statements he was making.

On the tape, Chiesa talked about the Trumans and Hannameyers stealing his wood, Matthews said.

The two families and the Chiesas had a history of disputes over a shared driveway that runs along the fronts of their homes on Highway 12 in Wallace. The Truman and Hannameyer families had to drive past Chiesa's property to reach their homes.

When Chiesa hired a professional tree trimmer to cut down eucalyptus branches over the driveway, the tree clippings fell onto the road, hindering two-way traffic, Calaveras County Sheriff's reports state.

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