Trial of Abductor Opens : Mother Fought Killer, Tried to Free Children

Times Staff Writer

A Flagstaff, Ariz., mother of three won the grudging respect of an escaped murderer holding her family at gunpoint when she tried desperately to stuff her children out of a bedroom window and later tried to wrestle away the killer’s gun, his lawyer told a jury Tuesday in federal court.

The woman had her hand on the trigger of the pistol before James Neal Kinslow subdued her and led her back to a downstairs bedroom, where the rest of her family was tied up, said H. Dean Steward, Kinslow’s lawyer.

“Mr. Kinslow told (her husband), ‘I admire your wife’s bravery. She damn near got me,’ ” Steward said.


Abducts Family

Kinslow, an escapee from the New Mexico State Penitentiary, is accused of abducting the family on July 29 at their Flagstaff home and leading them on a terrifying trip to Southern California, where he disappeared with their 11-year-old daughter.

He was arrested a day later in Garden Grove, a few hours after prosecutors say he molested the girl and left her alone in a deserted parking lot.

Kinslow’s trial on kidnaping, firearms and sex charges opened Tuesday, providing the fullest account to date of the family’s 29-hour ordeal.

The defendant is accused in separate charges of rape. But his attorney contends that the woman initiated the sexual encounter to try to save her family.

Kinslow, 28, was serving three life sentences for the murder of a New Mexico woman and her two young children when he escaped July 4 with six other inmates and went into hiding, according to his lawyer.

Steward said Kinslow left the other inmates and went west to Flagstaff, where he entered a house in the middle of the night to look for food and supplies.


The woman was awakened by the family puppy just after midnight and encountered Kinslow on the service porch. He was armed with two handguns and a large hunting knife.

Couple Tied Up

Assistant U.S. Atty. Nancy Wieben Stock said Kinslow led the woman back to the master bedroom and cut the phone lines, tying her and her husband to the bed with the severed cord.

When the woman wriggled free, Kinslow exploded in fury, pointed a .357-caliber revolver at her head and forced her to take him upstairs to where her three children were sleeping, Stock said.

Kinslow went back downstairs to investigate a noise, and as the sound of a gunshot rang out below, the woman made a desperate effort to free her two young daughters, trying to push them out a bedroom window.

But Kinslow returned and ordered the girls, 11 and 12 years old, and their 14-year-old brother down into the master bedroom with their father, Stock said, then forced the mother back upstairs and sexually assaulted her.

It was during the assault, prosecutors said, that the woman made a grab for the gun in Kinslow’s shoulder holster. A “violent fight” started, Stock said, leaving the woman with a broken rib and a severe bite on the back of her neck.


Drive to Barstow

The next morning, Kinslow forced the family into their truck and ordered them to drive west to Barstow. Kinslow left the rest of the family tied up in a motel room there and headed for Orange County with the 11-year-old daughter, Stock said.

The girl told officials that she was certain Kinslow was going to kill her. Before Kinslow pulled over onto a residential street and ordered her to remove her jeans, she scribbled a final note to her family, telling them she loved them and asking them to take care of her hamster.


The defendant was still trying to have intercourse with the child, Stock said, when the she reminded him that he had planned to rendezvous with associates, and he released her in the parking lot of a hamburger stand.

The girl wandered dazed through the darkened streets, knocking on several doors without response before she came upon a Garden Grove patrol car.

Kinslow was arrested at a nearby motel a short time later.

Admits Crimes

In his opening statements, Steward said it is clear that Kinslow committed the kidnapings but said the government will not be able to prove all of the 11-count indictment, which also includes charges of interstate transportation of a stolen car, using a firearm in a violent crime and interstate transportation of a minor for sexual purposes.

U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real refused to allow Steward to tell the jury that Kinslow should not be liable for the kidnapings because he abducted the family to protect himself from a “shoot to kill” order that New Mexico Gov. Garrey Carruthers had issued for the escaped convicts.


“What necessity is there to kidnap somebody?” Real demanded.

Steward called Real’s ruling “a devastating blow” and said he would probably appeal it.