He'll probably never actually be put to death in California, which has not executed any of the 685 or so people on Death Row since 2006, but serial killer Rodney Alcala got the death penalty for the third time when an Orange County jury delivered its recommendation a short time ago. He most likely will return to Death Row for killing a 12-year-old Huntington Beach ballet student and now four Los Angeles County women.
The widely expected jury recommendation was read in the court room of Judge Francisco Briseno at 4 p.m. today after two hours of deliberation. Alcala will be sentenced by Briseno in the next few weeks.
Twice before, the former Los Angeles Times typesetter and “The Dating Game” winner was found guilty of murdering Samsoe, but both convictions were overturned during appeal. Alcala has slipped away from Death Row by mining legal technicalities for decades.
Yet his crimes were heinous:
The bespectacled, shaggy-haired 66-year-old Alcala was convicted on February 25 of the 1970s brutal rape-murders of 27-year-old Malibu nurse Georgia Wixted, 21-year-old Pasadena key punch operator Jill Parenteau, 32-year-old Santa Monica legal secretary Charlotte Lamb, 18-year-old New York runaway Jill Barcomb, and 12-year-old Huntington Beach ballet student Robin Samsoe.
Orange County prosecutor Matt Murphy told jurors during closing arguments in the penalty phase of trial today that Alcala is an “evil monster who knows what he's doing is wrong and doesn't care.''
Murphy said Alcala, who grew up with a loving mother who gave him every opportunity to succeed including piano lessons and private schools, killed his victims for pleasure, like a psychopath.
Alcala wrapped up his defense by playing part of Arlo Guthrie's classic 18-minute Vietnam war protest song“Alice's Restaurant.''
Alcala said to the jurors that if they gave him the death penalty, “you become a wannabe killer in waiting.” The 1960s-era song is about a man being drafted for war telling a military psychiatrist:
“Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth…I mean kill, Kill, kill kill.”
Earlier, jurors heard two days of gripping testimony from victims' family members who talked about how the death of their loved ones affected them. Also testifying during the penalty phase of the trial were two women who were savagely raped by Alcala as girls, and lived to tell their harrowing tale.
The most searing testimony came from his victim Monique Hoyt, 46, who escaped the clutches of the then-handsome serial killer when she was a 15-year-old hitchhiker in 1979. Alcala brutally raped and strangled the girl but she cleverly convinced the psychopath that she wanted to continue their relationship.
Hoyt, who never got over his vicious attack upon her and has lived a troubled life, was so shaken by confronting Alcala that she needed a Los Angeles Police Department detective to sit with her. She told the jury that after ruining her life, the devious Alcala then wrote outrageous tales about her in his 1994 book, “You the Jury.”
Another key victim, Tali Shapiro, was just eight when she was brutally raped and almost beaten to death by Alcala in 1968. She told jurors she was lured into his car on Sunset Boulevard as she walked to school from her temporary home with her parents at the historic Chateau Marmont, where they had recently moved after their house burned down. On her way to school on September 25, 1969, Alcala asked her if she wanted a ride. “I said, 'I can't talk to strangers and the person said, 'I know your family,'” she told the jury. But Alcala coaxed her, telling her he had a beautiful picture to show her.
Luckily for Shapiro, she doesn't remember much after that. She spent weeks in a hospital recovering from Alcala's violent beating.
Alcala, who has been representing himself, called his only witness to testify on his behalf last week. Psychiatrist Dr. Richard Rappaport testified that Alcala suffers from a borderline personality disorder that may explain why he claims he can't remember his violent attacks. Rappaport agreed to testify after Alcala asked him to “explain how you can commit crimes not in your memory.''
New York City detectives believe that Alcala also murdered flight attendant Cornelia Crilley and Manhattan socialite Ellen Jane Hover. Hover's disappearance decades ago sent fear through the jet sets in New York City and Los Angeles, among whom she and her nightclub impresario father traveled.