Rodney Alcala guilty in slayings of one girl and four women [Updated]
In the latest twist in a 30-year legal odyssey, an Orange County jury on Thursday convicted accused serial killer Rodney Alcala of five counts of murder.
The jury deliberated for less than two days before reaching its decision.[Updated at 2:19 p.m.: Alcala sat upright and motionless in a packed courtroom while a clerk read the verdicts. He wore plastic-rimmed glasses, a gray sport coat, tie and bluejeans with tennis shoes. He said nothing when the verdicts were read, and answered the judge's questions afterward in a steady, muted and matter-of-fact voice.]
Alcala, 66, has been tried twice in the 1979 kidnapping and murder of Robin Samsoe, 12, of Huntington Beach. Each of those convictions was overturned.
The case this time expanded as authorities said they were able to tie Alcala to the murder of four Los Angeles County women between 1977 and 1979. Investigators said they linked Alcala to the torture and murder of Jill Barcomb, 18; Georgia Wixted, 27; Charlotte Lamb, 32; and Jill Parenteau, 21, with DNA, blood and fingerprint evidence. Each murder carried a special circumstance charge that would make Alcala subject to the death penalty.
Prosecutors painted Alcala as a sadistic monster who sexually tortured his victims, posed them and possibly took photos. Alcala, who acted as his own attorney, took the stand and asked and answered his own questions. Throughout the trial, he repeatedly ignored the charges in the Los Angeles cases and focused on proving his innocence in the Samsoe case.
Unlike the Los Angeles County cases, there was no DNA, blood or fingerprint evidence linking Alcala to Samsoe’s death. In opening and closing arguments, the defendant almost entirely ignored the four Los Angeles cases.
At one point, Alcala, a onetime typist at the Los Angeles Times, showed the jury a 20-second clip of his winning appearance in a 1978 episode of "The Dating Game" to prove his claim that he did not take a pair of earrings from Samsoe. Alcala’s long, feathered hair and the poor quality of the VHS recording made the earrings almost impossible to make out.
-- Paloma Esquivel in Santa Ana
1972 — Alcala is convicted in the 1968 rape and beating of an 8-year-old girl.
Nov. 10, 1977 — The body of 18-year-old Jill Barcomb is found in the Hollywood Hills. She had been sexually assaulted, bludgeoned and strangled with a pair of blue pants.
Dec. 16, 1977 — Georgia Wixted, 27, is found beaten to death at her home in Malibu. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled.
1978 — Alcala appears in an episode of “The Dating Game” as Bachelor No. 1.
June 24, 1978 — Charlotte Lamb, a 32-year-old legal secretary from Santa Monica, is found in the laundry room of an El Segundo apartment complex. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled with a shoelace.
June 14, 1979 — Jill Parenteau, 21, of Burbank is found strangled on the floor of her Burbank apartment.
June 20, 1979 – Robin Samsoe, 12, disappears near the Huntington Beach Pier. Her body is found 12 days later in the Sierra Madre foothills.
July 24, 1979 — Rodney James Alcala, an unemployed photographer, is arrested at his parents’ Monterey Park home.
September 1980 – Alcala is convicted of the 1978 rape of a 15-year-old Riverside girl and sentenced to nine years in state prison.
June 20, 1980 — Orange County Superior Court Judge Philip E. Schwab sentences Alcala to death after he is convicted of Samsoe's murder.
July 11, 1980 — The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office files murder, burglary and sexual assault charges against Alcala in the slaying of Parenteau.
April 15, 1981 — The L.A. district attorney’s office tells a judge that prosecution of Alcala in the Parenteau case could not proceed because a key witness admitted that he had committed perjury in another case.
Aug. 23, 1984 — The state Supreme Court reversed Alcala’s murder conviction in connection with Samsoe, ruling that the jury was improperly told about Alcala’s prior sex crimes.
June 20, 1986 — For the second time, Alcala is convicted for Samsoe’s murder and sentenced to death in Orange County Superior Court.
Dec. 31, 1992 — The California Supreme Court unanimously upholds Alcala’s death sentence.
April 2, 2001 — A federal appellate court overturns Alcala’s death sentence in the Samsoe case, ruling that the Superior Court judge precluded the defense from presenting evidence “material to significant issues.”
June 5, 2003 — The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office files murder charges against Alcala alleging that he killed Wixted during a burglary and rape.
Sept. 19, 2005 — Additional murder charges are filed against Alcala in connection to the deaths of Barcomb, Wixted and Lamb.
Jan. 11, 2010 — Alcala’s trial for the five murders begins. He represents himself.
-- Kimi Yoshino
Photos: (top) Rodney James Alcala was convicted of five counts of murder in an Orange County court Thursday. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times