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Man Given Death Sentence for Raping, Murdering Woman

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 44-year-old Reseda man was sentenced to death Monday for raping and murdering a woman who accepted his offer of a ride home from a bar.

Richard Stitely was convicted in San Fernando Superior Court last month of the January, 1990, slaying of Carol Unger, 47, who was last seen leaving a Reseda bar with Stitely. Unger’s partially clothed body was found the next day in an alley in Sun Valley, according to testimony in the case. She had been raped and strangled.

The same jury that convicted Stitely, an auto mechanic, of Unger’s rape and murder also recommended that he be sentenced to death.

Judge Howard Schwab on Monday accepted the jury’s recommendation, rejecting Deputy Public Defender Daniel Blum’s argument that the penalty phase of the trial should be thrown out because the jury was prejudiced by the introduction of evidence of other sexual assaults by Stitely.

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Deputy Dist. Atty. Andrew Flier argued for the death penalty, citing evidence that Stitely “viciously strangled, raped and sodomized” Unger and had sexually assaulted several other women and girls.

Under a new state law that goes into effect Jan. 1, Stitely and all other condemned prisoners will have their choice of death in the gas chamber or by lethal injection, said Solange Brooks, a state Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

The option must be exercised within 10 days after an execution date is set, Brooks said, or the sentence will be death by gas. Brooks said no executions are expected for about one year “so the law in effect gives all 339 men and women on Death Row the choice of means of death.”

No date will be set for Stitely’s execution until he has exhausted all appeals, a process that typically takes several years, Blum said.

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According to trial testimony, Stitely volunteered to give Unger a lift home after she told friends that she was going to call a taxi. Several witnesses said Unger initially was reluctant to accept Stitely’s offer but went with him after a bartender vouched for Stitely, who was known to people at the bar only as Richard.

Police arrested him about two weeks after the murder.


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