The trial of a man charged in the 1985 kidnaping and murder of two college students during a car theft in Westwood opened Wednesday with an admitted accomplice testifying that the killings stemmed from a plan to steal a car to rob a desert liquor store for money to bail a friend out of jail.
However, the robbery of a liquor store in Barstow never took place because it was deemed too risky, said DeAndre Brown, the leadoff witness in the Santa Monica Superior Court trial of Damon L. Redmond, 22, of South-Central Los Angeles.
Redmond was one of four men arrested in the Oct. 1, 1985, killings of UCLA freshman Michelle Ann Boyd, 19, and her boyfriend, Cal State Northridge sophomore Brian Harris, 20. Authorities said the two were abducted when Redmond and three others commandeered Harris’ 1981 Honda.
The two victims were driven to a secluded field along Mulholland Drive in the Sepulveda Pass, where they were shot to death. The Honda was taken to another location and burned to cover up the homicides, police said.
However, a thumbprint found in the auto led to the arrests of Redmond, Brown, 24, Donald Bennett, 23, and Stanley Bernard Davis, 26, the man who, authorities allege, marched Boyd and Harris into the field and shot them.
In exchange for immunity from prosecution, Brown has cooperated with police, providing details about the murders and the plan to steal a car for the proposed robbery. He also led officers to the bodies of Boyd and Harris.
Bennett was sentenced to 18 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to two lesser counts of second-degree murder. Davis’ trial is scheduled for February.
On the witness stand Wednesday, Brown said Barstow was picked for the robbery because it was an out-of-the-way place. But on the night of Sept. 30, the four discovered that the pickup truck they were driving had bad tires and could not make the trip.
“I thought we were going first to Barstow,” he said. “But we went to Westwood.”
There, armed with an Uzi machine gun and a pistol, the four searched for a car to steal.
“We all wanted to do it,” Brown said.
Eventually, he said, Redmond and Davis commandeered the Honda with Boyd and Harris in it. Brown did not specify how the car was taken and his testimony concluded for the day before the murders were covered.
In addition to Brown’s testimony, Deputy Dist. Atty. Harvey Giss said he would introduce into evidence a series of jail recordings in which Redmond and Davis, unaware that they were being taped, talked among themselves about their involvement in the murders.