Mandell jurors see alleged would-be murder tools

Prosecutors say chilling undercover video shows former police officer Steve Mandell talking his plot to kill and dismember a suburban business man.
February 18, 2014 3:59:46 PM PST
Jurors at the trial of former police officer Steve Mandell were shown tools that prosecutors say he planned to use to kidnap and kill a suburban businessman.

FBI agents testified about the items seized from a storefront that Mandell allegedly outfitted with a butcher table and other equipment needed to drain a body of blood. The items included sleeping pills, hand saws and pry bars.

Mandell and an accomplice are accused of plotting to kill Riverside businessman Steve Campbell to take over his allegedly mob-connected strip club.

On Friday, attorneys for Mandell acknowledged their client sounds horrible on FBI surveillance tapes. Jurors have heard hours of audio and video recordings with Mandell. The last evidence entered into trial Fridya was three hours of video shot at the alleged location where the murders would occur.

The crude conversation offers detailed descriptions of torture, murder and disposing of the body. The FBI placed cameras at the office space on Devon Avenue in October of 2012. The space was rented by Mandell.

Mandell's alleged accomplice, shown in the video with gray hair, is Gary Engel, according to prosecutors. In the video taken two days before their arrests, jurors heard the men talking about keeping someone restrained.

    MANDELL: We're going to keep him here, secure to here. Okay?

    ENGEL: Yeah, well I, you know?

    MANDELL: In a wheelchair or chair.

Early the next morning, jurors see Engel bringing items in the room and moving things around. And later on October 24, Engel recommends Mandell get protective eye wear.

    ENGEL: I'd pick yourself up something like this if I were you. Or those wrap-around glasses.

    MANDELL: Really?

    ENGEL: Yeah.

    MANDELL: Now that's the thing about the saw. Is that going to be flinging stuff all over the place?

In video on the day of their arrest, the day prosecutors allege Mandell and Engel were going to kidnap, torture, extort and kill Campbell, Mandell is seen experimenting with a wheelchair.

Jurors heard in the recordings the men discussing a fake arrest warrant and badges. They are also heard discussing names, locations and times in great detail.

At one point, Mandell stands by a large sink and counter that the men had discussed was sufficient to drain blood.

    MANDELL: Right there.

    ENGEL: Put his head on this end.

    MANDELL: Here.

FBI agent Sean Burke testified about the arrest of Mandell and Engel on October 25. Agent Burke described a show of force with weapons and stun grenade.

"He advised us that he was a police officer," Burke testified about taking Mandell into custody. "He replied once or twice he was a police officer."

Mandell's attorneys will not have an opportunity to question the FBI agent.

Engel committed suicide after he was arrested.

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