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Attorneys Clash in Closing Arguments of Lampasi Murder Trial

Times Staff Writer

When 16-year-old Ronald Lampasi of Laguna Hills walked into a police station two years ago and said he had killed his adoptive father and wounded his adoptive mother, he did not tell authorities that he had been sexually molested at home, or that a friend participated in the shootings.

But during closing arguments Friday at Lampasi’s trial on charges of murder and attempted murder, his attorney told jurors that those two elements played an important role in what happened.

Deputy Public Defender Paul Stark argued that Lampasi killed his adoptive father in self-defense, fearing that the sexual molestations he endured from his father when he was in the fifth grade were starting all over again.

“Ron Lampasi thought he had no other way out,” Stark told jurors.

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Faces Long Sentence

Lampasi, now 18, faces a possible sentence of 32 years to life for the June 2, 1982, shooting death of 60-year-old John Lampasi and the attempted murder of Ruth Lampasi. The latter, his adoptive mother, lay wounded on the floor of their home for two days before she was discovered.

Lampasi admitted shooting his father but claimed it was his friend and neighbor, David Christianson, who shot his mother. Stark argued to jurors that Christianson had a strong influence on Lampasi, and that his presence gave Lampasi the courage to try to do something about his father.

Christianson, 17, has already stood trial on charges of murder and attempted murder in the shootings, and was acquitted of all charges, even though Ruth Lampasi identified Christianson as the one who aimed a gun at her before she passed out.

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Christianson said at his own trial he was at the Lampasi house later that day, when Lampasi took him there to view the carnage. But he denied at his trial, and later at Lampasi’s trial, that he was present when the shootings occurred.

Conflicting Testimony

That placed Lampasi’s prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Mike Maguire, in an unusual situation, with two of his key witnesses--David Christianson and Ruth Lampasi --giving jurors conflicting views of what happened.

But Maguire told jurors that while the door is left open about who actually shot Ruth Lampasi, there is no doubt that Ronald Lampasi murdered his father and, at the very least, aided and abetted in the shooting of his mother.

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Maguire argued that while the elder Lampasi had been convicted of sexually molesting one of his adopted daughters, there is no evidence that Ronald Lampasi had been sexually molested, or even badly beaten. Maguire said Stark’s image of Lampasi as a battered child “is greatly exaggerated.”

Maguire tried to show that Lampasi and Christianson were deeply involved in “Dungeons and Dragons,” a popular game in which the players act out imaginary events. Maguire said it is possible that the killing of Lampasi’s parents was part of the boys’ game.

Another Motive Cited

But Maguire also pointed to another possible motive, shown in Lampasi’s first statements to police, that the shootings were the result of his desire to “not have anyone to nag me.” At the time, the defendant told police he wanted to be allowed to drive the family Porsche at will and not have to do homework.

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Maguire argued that it was not important for him to prove who actually shot Ruth Lampasi.

“There are a thousand facts in this case; you do not have to believe all the facts to return a guilty verdict,” Maguire said. “If you don’t believe that Ron Lampasi shot his mother, can you really believe that he didn’t know that David Christianson was going to shoot her?”

Jurors are scheduled to begin deliberations in the case Monday.


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