When the next phase of Randy Steven Kraft’s trial begins--to determine whether he should die in the gas chamber--prosecutors may link Kraft to even more murders than the jury has yet glimpsed.
While Deputy Dist. Atty. Bryan F. Brown has not yet announced how many murders he will introduce during the so-called penalty phase, his office has tied Kraft in court papers to 29 murders in three states besides the 16 Orange County murders for which Kraft was convicted on Friday.
Now that Kraft has been convicted 16 times, Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. James G. Enright said Friday, “I’m hoping I can talk Bryan (Brown) into paring down the numbers a little.”
In a penalty phase, a prosecutor can introduce any acts of violence, or acts which show a propensity for violence, by the defendant.
In arguing that Kraft deserves the death penalty, the prosecutor is expected to rely heavily on the Orange County convictions. Here, however, is a look at how the other slayings might be included in the penalty phase:
Prosecutors would show the jurors that Kraft was in northern Oregon on business for Lear Siegler Inc. when six murders were committed between Portland and Salem between 1980 and 1982. Items belonging to two of those men were found at Kraft’s house in Long Beach, prosecutors say. A third man’s jacket was found on the floor of a hotel in Grand Rapids, Mich., where Kraft, on the same business trip, was staying a day after that slaying.
Autopsies on the three other victims found drugs which Kraft was known to possess. And one of the Oregon victims was sexually mutilated in a way that bears similarities to some of the mutilations in the Orange County cases.
The most damning evidence could be the list found in Kraft’s car. It has six consecutive entries which begin with “Portland.”
Records show that Kraft was on business for Lear Siegler in Grand Rapids, Mich., when two cousins attending a horticulture show at the Amway Grand Hotel there were killed in December, 1982. Kraft stayed at that hotel, and prosecutors claim that witnesses saw him talking to the two young men. Some of the victims’ possessions were later found at Kraft’s house, according to prosecutors.
Again, prosecutors consider the list from Kraft’s car as potent evidence. Directly after the six Oregon entries, Kraft has written “GR2.” That means Grand Rapids 2, prosecutors contend.
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY: FOUR
Items from two men found here were found at Kraft’s house, according to prosecutors’ court papers. One was Vincent Mestas, 23, of Long Beach. Prosecutors allege that “Vince M” on Kraft’s list stands for his death.
ORANGE COUNTY: SIX MORE
Six murders in Orange County were not included in the charges against Kraft that went to trial last September. Some were still being investigated when Kraft’s preliminary hearing occurred, and prosecutors could not add them to the charges without delaying the trial.
But most of these deaths occurred in the early 1970s, and prosecutors so far have not shown physical evidence directly linking them to Kraft. Prosecutors primarily have relied on their similarities to 16 murders in the charges, plus the list found in Kraft’s car.
Prosecutors believe that Wayne Dukette, 30, found dead on Sept. 20, 1971, was Kraft’s first victim. Dukette worked at the Stables Bar in Sunset Beach, which Kraft frequented. “Stable” is the first notation on the Kraft list.
Some cases were not presented to the jury because the prosecution felt that the evidence was not compelling. For example, the body of 15-year-old Jeffrey Bryan Sayre of Santa Ana, who disappeared Nov. 24, 1979, has never been bound. Prosecutors so far have noted only two connections to Kraft: “Westminster Date” is on the Kraft list, which prosecutors say stands for Sayre, last seen after a date with a girl in Westminster. Also, he was seen at a bus stop near the home of Kraft’s parents.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: THREE
Single slayings in Los Angeles, Imperial, and San Diego counties were tied to Kraft by prosecutors in papers filed in court in 1983 and 1984. Two were linked to Kraft because of similarities with other victims. The third, that of 21-year-old Mikeal Lane of Stanislaus County, was mentioned after prosecutors found his torn Social Security card among Kraft’s possessions. Lane’s body was found Jan. 9, 1984, in a remote area of northern San Diego County.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY: EIGHT
Because these deaths were not added to the Kraft case by prosecutors until shortly before the trial, Deputy Dist. Atty. Bryan F. Brown is not expected to introduce them during the penalty phase. They were not included in the “notice of aggravation” prosecutors must file in death penalty cases.
But Brown has tied these eight to Kraft through the list found in his car. If the defense tried to introduce the rest of the list in an attempt to show holes in Brown’s theory, then the judge might permit Brown to introduce the Los Angeles deaths in rebuttal.