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'Black Widows' jury hands final verdict

April 21, 2008 9:42:47 AM PDT
A final verdict Monday in the "Black Widows" murder trial.Seventy-five-year-old Olga Rutterschmidt was found guilty of first degree murder and conspiracy in the death of a homeless man.

Last week she and co-defendant Helen Golay were found guilty of the same charges in another man's death.

Charged with eight felonies, Monday's verdict gives the prosecution a clean sweep.

The jury came to a swift decision last week regarding Rutterschmidt's co-defendant, Helen Golay. But the jury was stuck on Rutterschmidt, saying they were hopelessly deadlocked. Monday morning, with the weekend to think it over, they came to a decision in 40 minutes.

Through the trial, Olga Rutterschmit had been at times agitated, even speaking out.

But Monday, as the clerk read the final verdicts, her face was empty of emotion.

Guilty in the death of Paul Vados; guilty of conspiring with her friend Helen Golay to carry out the murder for the purpose of profit. Two women in their golden years became serial killers for money.

"It goes to show that you can never tell. People are not always what they appear, and the juries were able to see through the factors of age and gender and deliberate on what the evidence was," said Lead Prosecutor Deputy District Atorney Truc Do.

An LAPD surveillance tape was one of nearly 200 pieces of evidence. Rutterschmidt's defense was that Golay was the brains.

Yet Prosecutor Bobby Grace says the jury found just the opposite. Though Golay paid the insurance premiums, Rutterschmidt was an active player in the plotting.

"She didn't put up any money on a scheme that she collected almost a million dollars," said Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace. "She didn't put up any of her money at all."

It was the suspicious hit-and-run death of Kenneth McDavid that led investigators to uncover key evidence. The car used as the murder weapon was too damaged to drive more than a couple of blocks from where McDavid was run over. Detectives found evidence that Helen Golay had an Auto Club card and that she had called for help from a gas station a hundred yards from the crime scene.

The women collected $2.8 million from multiple insurance claims. LAPD investigators were able to seize $2 million of their ill-gotten gains from their bank accounts.

Now there will be another court battle to see who gets it. The U.S. Attorney may want it forfeited to subsidize law enforcement. The insurance companies want it returned to them. And family members of the victims may file suit, saying the money should go to them as rightful next of kin.

 

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