Will the horrific events that left a tiny girl unconscious for days in a Los Angeles hospital 41* years ago, badly raped and facing weeks of recovery, send Rodney Alcala to Death Row, or will he merely get life in prison from an Orange County jury?
The mysterious “Tali,” long mentioned in court records, who Alcala was convicted of raping four decades ago, appeared in public Monday — she's now a stylish 52-year-old woman — and testified that convicted serial killer Rodney Alcala raped and almost killed her when she was a second-grade student living with her family at the Chateau Marmont hotel in West Hollywood.
The jury was riveted, and here's why:
Tali Shapiro was the second person to testify for jurors who are considering whether to recommend the death sentence for Alcala who was convicted February 25 of killing four Los Angeles County women and a 12-year-old Huntington Beach ballet student.
Shapiro, tanned and wearing a black dress and red belt, told jurors that at the time of the attack she lived with her mother and her music industry executive father at the historic Chateau Marmont because their house recently burned down.
She didn't like to take the bus to school so would get up early and walk. On the way to school on the morning of September 25, 1969, Alcala stopped her on Sunset Boulevard and 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.
Alcala eventually enticed her inside his car by telling her that he had a beautiful picture to show her.
Luckily for Shapiro, she didn't remember much after that. “I remember being shown a picture and that was the last thing I remember,” she said.
Retired LAPD officer Chris Camacho testified that he responded to a call made by a good Samaritan who saw a highly suspicious event: a man, who turned out to be Alcala, picking up a little girl on Sunset Boulevard. Camacho says Alcala took young Tali to his nearby De Longpre Avenue apartment.
Camacho told the jury that when police arrived, Alcala didn't answer the door at first but answered after the officer threatened to kick the door down. He said Alcala opened up a side window and told the officer he was taking a shower. So the officer kicked the door in. He found tiny Tali Shapiro almost dead on the floor with a large metal bar across her neck. Alcala had vanished out the back door.
When asked by Orange County Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy if he had ever witnessed anything so brutal, Camacho replied: “I served in Vietnam and those memories and this will stay with me forever,” he said.
At the end of Shapiro's testimony, Alcala, who has been representing himself, asked if she remembered him apologizing to her when she testified at an earlier trial. She said she did not.
“I sincerely regret and apologize for my despicable actions that day,'' he said.
Shapiro, who said her family moved to Mexico after her brutal attack, did not respond.
*Correction: original posting of this information contained a typo stating that Talia was raped 31 years ago.