Randy Steven Kraft, who has remained calm throughout his 9-month trial on charges of killing 16 young men, displayed a rare burst of frustration Tuesday during arguments over what evidence the jurors should hear about the first victim’s death.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Bryan F. Brown argued repeatedly that much of the defense’s information pointing to other potential suspects in the 1972 death of Camp Pendleton Marine Edward Daniel Moore was irrelevant.
In once instance, Kraft attorney C. Thomas McDonald wanted jurors to know that authorities found a portrait in Moore’s locker of a Long Beach man. The defense claims that man may have hired Marines to pose for him.
“So what?” Brown asked Superior Court Judge Donald A. McCartin outside the presence of the jury. “Assuming all that is true . . . it doesn’t have anything to do with this case.”
Kraft’s Eyes Widened
Kraft’s eyes widened and he spoke to McDonald in a shouted whisper audible to the audience.
“So what? So what (it matters) to me,” Kraft said, pointing to himself.
Kraft, 43, a Long Beach computer consultant, has been linked by prosecutors to a total of 45 murders in Southern California, Oregon and Long Beach. If Kraft is found guilty of any of the 16 murder charges, the other killings could be used by prosecutors at a penalty hearing where they sought a death verdict.
Kraft was arrested on May 14, 1983, after two California Highway Patrol officers found a dead Marine, 25-year-old Terry Lee Gambrel, in the front passenger seat of his car. The 16 charges date back to the death of Moore, who was found on a freeway off-ramp in Seal Beach on Dec. 26, 1972. Moore, like several of the 45 people Kraft is accused of killing, was found with a sock inserted in a body cavity.
McDonald wanted to present evidence that Moore had a homosexual relationship with another man and that prosecutors found a pile of single socks in the man’s trailer.
Judge McCartin, over the prosecution’s objections, permitted the defense to let jurors hear about the homosexual relationship. But the judge said the search information was irrelevant.
McDonald said later: “I thought it was relevant. We’ve had so many socks in this case, how could that not be relevant?”
Prosecutor Brown has continuosly objected to defense evidence he contends is designed to throw the jurors off the track. For example, Brown said that the picture of the Long Beach man found in Moore’s locker was meaningless “unless we’re saying that anyone who has had sexual contact with one of the victims in this case is prime to be brought in automatically . . . and that is just not the case.”
‘Can I Just Flip the Coin’
McDonald did not give up.
“Can I just flip the coin here for a moment?” he said. “What if within the locker was a picture of Mr. Kraft? Would the prosecution be allowed to present that to the jury?”
Prosecutor Brown countered, “Yes, because of other evidence linking Mr. Kraft, which in our opinion is overwhelming.” The judge agreed.
Although prosecutors have no physical evidence linking Kraft to Moore’s death, the entry “EDM” was found on a list in Kraft’s car, in his handwriting, which prosecutors claim is Kraft’s own death list. Brown also considers the sock strong evidence. Also, Moore was found in an area Brown claims was “Kraft’s favorite dumping ground”; he was strangled like most of the other victims in the case and he had been re-dressed after death, as were some of the others.
McDonald, however, contends that the list found in Kraft’s car is meaningless and that the rest of the evidence cannot be linked to his client.
Although Moore is the last of the 16 victims discussed by the defense before the jury, McDonald told the court he still has 19 witnesses and cannot guarantee he can meet the judge’s tentative timetable of completing the defense by Easter.
Kraft has not testified and McDonald refused to say whether his client will take the witness stand. But he did tell the court that he must meet with Kraft privately to determine whether the defense will put on anyone besides the 19 he mentioned.