Martha Stewart feels the strain as the 'idiot' gives his evidence

Martha Stewart was standing to leave her securities fraud trial on Thursday when her daughter, Alexis, reached over to remove an errant strand of hair from her mother's face. At least Martha had three days of respite to look forward to before proceedings resume tomorrow. By the way she looked, she needed it.

The ground seemed to be crumbling beneath Ms Stewart through most of the week with testimony from a witness who has quickly become the other star of this trial. Once belittled - as the jury heard - by Ms Stewart as a "little shit" and an "idiot", he sung the prosecution's song with perfect pitch. The "idiot" was Douglas Faneuil, once an assistant to Ms Stewart's former broker at Merrill Lynch, and her co-defendant in the trial, Peter Bacanovic.

Helped by several emails presented as evidence, he painted Ms Stewart as a nightmare client who once threatened to take her business away from Merrill because she didn't care for the jingles it played on its telephone system when she was put on hold.

But the real bombshell from Mr Faneuil came earlier in proceedings. He flatly described how, on 27 December 2001, he warned Ms Stewart on the telephone that the founder of ImClone, a drugs company in which she had stock, was dumping his shares. Her response was quick, he said: "I want to sell".

Thus, the main premise of the case against Ms Stewart, the celebrity homemaking guru, appeared to have been corroborated. The then chief executive of ImClone, Sam Waksal, had bailed out because he knew the government was going to withhold approval the following day of a drug the company was making. Thanks to the call from Mr Faneuil - allegedly acting on orders from Mr Bacanovic - so did Ms Stewart.

Unflappable on the stand, Mr Faneuil, 27, went on to recall how he became ensnared in a cover-up of these events. Both defendants claimed there had been a prior agreement between them to sell the ImClone shares if they fell beneath a certain price. Not so, said Mr Faneuil. No wonder the stoic expression worn by Ms Stewart at times turned to one of distress.

The government, which is accusing Ms Stewart of perjury, obstruction of justice and securities fraud - charges that could bring her 30 years in prison - appears to have bet the case on Mr Faneuil. With relentless cross-examination - so repetitive it drew groans from the public pews and more than one reprimand from the judge - the lawyer for Mr Bacanovic attempted to discredit Mr Faneuil.

Implied in some of the cross-examination was the notion that Mr Faneuil was fixated with Ms Stewart and was therefore out to get her. To show this, the defence lawyer, David Apfel, asked about some testy phone calls he had exchanged with Ms Stewart before the ImClone debacle. It is not clear if the strategy worked; some of what was described drew hearty laughter from the jury.

"She told you she was going to leave Mr Bacanovic and leave Merrill Lynch unless the hold music was changed," Mr Apfel told Mr Faneuil, who nodded. And then there were the emails that the witness had written to friends describing what it had been like dealing with Ms Stewart.

"I just spoke to Martha," he said in one. "I have never been treated more rudely by a stranger on the telephone. She actually hung up on me." In another, he wrote: "Martha yelled at me again today, but I snapped in her face and she actually backed down! Baby put Ms Martha in her place!!"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Female Care Worker

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This expanding, vibrant charity which su...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Supervisor & Advisor - Automotive

£16500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading...

Recruitment Genius: Housing Assistant

£16819 - £21063 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager - OTE £60,000

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In 2014, they launched the worl...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones