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Serial killer Alcala convicted on all counts

February 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A serial killer faces the death penalty after a jury convicted him of murdering four women and a 12-year-old girl in the late 1970s.The verdict was read just before 2 p.m.

Rodney Alcala looked forward with his hands clasped in front of him. With each guilty verdict, family members of the victims sobbed.

"Well, he looked nervous, and they were happy," said Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy.

The seven-man, five-woman jury reached the verdicts on its second full day of deliberations. The panel began deliberating late Tuesday, and deliberated all day Wednesday without submitting any questions to Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno.

Rodney Alcala is charged with abducting and killing 12-year-old Robin Samsoe June 20, 1979. He is also charged in the deaths of Jill Barcomb, an 18-year-old runaway who was killed in a remote area of the Hollywood Hills on Nov. 10, 1977; Georgia Wixted, a 27- year-old registered nurse killed on Dec. 16, 1978; Charlotte Lamb, 32, slain on June 24, 1978; and Jill Parenteau, 21, who was killed June 14, 1979.

Jurors also found true a variety of special circumstances -- including torture, rape, kidnapping and multiple murder -- making Alcala eligible for the death penalty.

The 66-year-old pleaded not guilty to all five counts of first-degree murder. He was convicted twice previously for the Samsoe killing, but both convictions were overturned on appeal.

"Robin stopped a monster and that's why we're here every day to let you guys know that if it wasn't for Robin, it could be your loved ones here too, because he was a monster," said Robert Samsoe, Robin's brother.

Alcala, who acted as his own attorney, said in his closing statement Tuesday that authorities engaged in "magical thinking" as they prepared their third case against him for the Samsoe slaying.

In closing arguments the prosecutor pleaded with jurors not to let Alcala get away with murder. Prosecutors allege Alcala kidnapped Samsoe on her way to ballet class after witnesses saw him photographing her at the beach. Her body was later found in the Los Angeles foothills.

"He got her into his car and he drove her up to those mountains and Rodney Alcala smashed her face in when she was still alive," said Murphy. "He brutalized her."

Alcala, often speaking in a rambling monotone, told jurors he was at Knott's Berry Farm when Samsoe was kidnapped.

"The statements that I've made are, one, that I didn't abduct and didn't kill Robin Samsoe," said Alcala.

Prosecutors say Alcala changed his appearance a day after police released a suspect sketch after Samsoe's disappearance. Prosecutors allege earrings worn by Samsoe were found in Alcala's storage unit in Seattle, where he moved after her murder.

Alcala says they were his earrings, but he could not explain how those earrings were found in the same pouch as rose-shaped earrings belonging to another victim, Charlotte Lamb. Lamb's DNA was found on the second pair of earrings.

"It's been hard. It's hard what we've had to deal with. We've done two other trials, but this one was hard," said Robert Samsoe.

Before this third trial, prosecutors alleged forensic evidence linked Alcala to the murders of the four women in Los Angeles. Alcala put up no defense in those cases.

City News Service contributed to this report.