“I was the coder, the implementer. The client was the designer.” So says coder-implementer Kevin Kachikian, private eye Anthony Pellicano’s computer expert who is alleged to have outfitted client Pellicano with an integrated – and illegal – wiretapping software program called TeleSleuth. Years from now Kachikian’s statement may resound like a cyber-age version of “I was only following orders.” Kachikian testified on his own behalf all day Wednesday, stressing that he developed the program under the direction of Pellicano from 1995 to 2002.
Time and time again Kachikian had to be admonished by Judge Dale Fischer – and even his own attorney, Adam Braun – to stop appending elliptical explanations to his answers to Braun’s friendly questioning. Dressed in what has become Style Kachikian – checkerboard sweater, canvas trousers, sandals and white socks – the computer geek presented helpful if self-destructively candid explanations of how he had been drawn into what the government alleges was a criminal enterprise aimed at stealing the identities of private citizens.
“I might’ve gone out and taken a walk around the block,” said Kachikian, describing downtime during the long hours he spent when performing work at Pellicano’s investigative agency. “And then I came back.” That last part was never a given, it seems, for this self-taught programmer who lived in a world of his own algorithms.
Attorney Braun’s strategy was subtle but risky. Without drawing too much attention to itself, Braun’s questioning, nevertheless, was aimed at putting arm’s distance between his meek, otherworldly client and the profane, micromanaging Pellicano – while presenting Kachikian’s various inventions as logical evolutions of previous legal devices. When Kachikian once asked about a telephone page Pellicano had received for a call from actor Tom Cruise, Kachikian claims the P.I. had yelled, “If you ever fucking bring that up again I’ll rip your head off!”
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At several points during the day Kachikian demonstrated the use of a few of the programs he developed for Pellicano, clearly proud of each one’s capabilities. For the demonstration of Forensic AudioSleuth and TeleSleuth, respectively, Kachikian chose audio clips from the Jodie Foster film Contact and the Doris Day-Rock Hudson camp classic, Pillow Talk. Braun’s questioning of Kachikian continues Thursday morning and will be followed, no doubt, by a rather less credulous line of questioning from the prosecution. Meantime Pellicano, who, like a June bride nursing plenty of secrets, finally announced he would not testify on his own behalf. As the proceedings wind down to their most technologically dense phases, visitors to the courtroom can only wonder, Do androids dream of the Pellicano trial?