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2 New Cases Target Slaying Defendant

Times Staff Writers

Detectives in Los Angeles have submitted cases to Orange County prosecutors accusing a murder defendant, already behind bars for the last 25 years, with killing two women in the late 1970s, law enforcement sources said Tuesday.

One of the cases involves the killing of a nurse in Malibu and the other involves an unidentified woman from Los Angeles, the sources said.

They were linked to the suspect, Rodney James Alcala, 62, through DNA evidence by “cold case” squads at the LAPD and L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, said the sources, who are involved in the investigations but spoke on condition that they not be named.

Starting Oct. 3, Alcala is to be tried a third time in Orange County after his two death sentences were overturned in the murder of Robin Samsoe, 12, of Huntington Beach.

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Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. Matt Murphy, the lead prosecutor in the Orange County case, declined to comment about any pending cases or say whether his office was considering filing new charges against Alcala. Alcala’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

Robin Samsoe disappeared June 20, 1979, while bicycling to a dance lesson, and her body was found 12 days later in the foothills above near Sierra Madre.

At the first trial, a forestry worker testified to seeing a curly-haired man with a blond girl on a hiking trail the day Robin was abducted, near where the body was later found.

Jurors deliberated only a few hours before convicting Alcala on June 20, 1980. He was sentenced to die in the gas chamber.

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In August 1984, Alcala won his first new trial. The state Supreme Court overturned the conviction, saying evidence about prior convictions was improperly allowed.

In the second trial, the forestry worker testified that she had since suffered amnesia and no longer remembered the man or the little girl. Alcala was again convicted, and sent to San Quentin State Prison to await execution.

But in April 2001, the conviction was overturned on grounds that Alcala’s lawyers should have been allowed to introduce a psychologist’s testimony casting doubt on the forestry worker’s amnesia claim.

The same day, Los Angeles County prosecutors announced that DNA evidence tied Alcala to the slaying of Georgia Wixted, 27, a nurse raped and beaten to death in her Malibu apartment in December 1977.

According to the sources, the prosecutors recently acted on that evidence by submitting the case, along with that of the unidentified woman, to Orange County prosecutors.


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