Posted: Mar 30, 2010 3:04 PM by Melissa Canone
Updated: Mar 30, 2010 3:04 PM
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - A judge on Tuesday sentenced serial
killer Rodney Alcala to death for the strangling and beating deaths
of four women and a 12-year-old girl in the 1970s.
The sentence was announced three weeks after a jury recommended
death for the 66-year-old amateur photographer who was convicted
last month of five counts of first-degree murder after a bizarre
and sometimes surreal trial.
The hearing continued as several members of the victims'
families waited to address Alcala in court.
Alcala acted as his own attorney and unveiled a rambling defense
strategy that included questioning the mother of one of his
victims, playing an Arlo Guthrie ballad and showing a clip from the
1970s TV show "The Dating Game."
After the verdict, authorities released more than 100 photos of
young women and girls found in Alcala's possession in hopes of
linking him to other unsolved murders around the country.
Authorities from New Hampshire to Washington are now trying to
determine if Alcala may have killed in their states.
Alcala has been sentenced to death twice before in the 1979
murder of young Robin Samsoe, but those verdicts were overturned on
appeal. Prosecutors refiled charges in that case and added the four
other murders in 2006 after investigators linked them to Alcala
using DNA samples and other forensic evidence.
Those cases, which had gone unsolved for decades, went on trial
for the first time this year.
The 12-year-old Samsoe disappeared on June 20, 1979, while
riding a friend's bike to ballet class in Huntington Beach in
Orange County. Her body was found 12 days later in the Angeles
National Forest, where it had been mutilated by wild animals.
Alcala was arrested a month after Samsoe's disappearance when
his parole agent recognized him from a police sketch and called
authorities. He has been in custody ever since.
He was first tried in Samsoe's murder in 1980. Prosecutors added
the murders of the four women after investigators discovered
forensic evidence linking him to those crimes, including DNA found
on three of the women, a bloody handprint and marker testing done
on blood Alcala left on a towel in the fourth victim's home.
The jury convicted Alcala of the murders on Feb. 25, and also
found true special-circumstance allegations of rape, torture and
kidnapping, making him eligible for the death penalty.
During the guilt phase of trial, Alcala played a seconds-long
clip of himself on a 1978 episode of "The Dating Game." He said
the grainy clip proved that he was wearing a gold-ball earring
almost a year before Samsoe was killed.
Prosecutors said the earring, found in a small pouch with other
earrings in a storage locker Alcala had rented, belonged to Samsoe
and that Alcala had taken it as a trophy. They also found the DNA
of another Alcala's victims on a rose-shaped earring in the same
During the penalty phase, the trial took another bizarre twist
when Alcala played Arlo Guthrie's 1967 song "Alice's Restaurant,"
in which the narrator tries to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam
War by trying to convince a psychiatrist that he's unfit for the
military because of his supposed extreme desire to kill.
"I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth,"
the song's narrator sings. "Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean: kill,
kill, kill, kill."
The song prompted Samsoe's brother to stalk out of the
In addition to Samsoe, Alcala is charged with killing Jill
Barcomb, 18, who had just moved to Los Angeles from Oneida, N.Y.;
Georgia Wixted, 27, of Malibu; Charlotte Lamb, 32, of Santa Monica;
and Jill Parenteau, 21, of Burbank.