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L.A. serial killer should get death, jury decides

December 13, 2011 |  4:25 pm

Michael Hughes should get death penalty, jury saysA jury on Tuesday voted for the death penalty for a former security guard already serving a life sentence for multiple murders.

Michael Hughes, 55, was convicted last month for three additional slayings. The seven-man, five-woman jury deliberated just under 30 minutes before voting for the death penalty, said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. He will be sentenced March 29 before Superior Court Judge Curtis B. Rappe.

In 1998, Hughes was convicted of killing four women, three of whom were choked to death and dumped in alleys in a commercial area of Culver City. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

PHOTOS: California's most notorious killers

He was linked by Los Angeles Police Department cold-case homicide detectives using DNA evidence to the strangulation slayings of four more victims, ages 15 to 36. Last month, he was convicted in three of those killings: of Yvonne Coleman, 15; Verna Patricia Williams, 36; and Deborah Jackson, 32, also known as Harriet McKinley.

The killings came in an era when authorities say at least five serial killers, possibly more, were active in the South Los Angeles area. During the 1980s and early '90s, these killers primarily targeted young African American women, dumping their bodies in alleys, vacant buildings or parks.

At the time, the eight killings were footnotes in an era of unprecedented violence in Los Angeles that began in the 1980s. By the early 1990s, the number of homicides had soared to more than 1,000 annually compared with around 300 today.

Authorities have long suspected that Hughes was linked to killings beyond Los Angeles because of his frequent movements. He lived in Long Beach, San Diego and Michigan.


Serial killer: Michael Hughes

Interactive map: Serial killers in South L.A.

Serial killer convicted in three more murders

-- Andrew Blankstein (Twitter.com/anblanx)

Photo: Michael Hughes.  Credit: Los Angeles Police Department