A California murderer who spent more than a decade on death row in San Quentin was executed in Virginia on Thursday night for a double murder in the suburbs of Washington.
Alfredo Prieto, a serial rapist and killer, was convicted of rape and murder in both Southern California and northern Virginia. He was the prime suspect in at least nine homicides based on DNA and ballistics evidence.
He was put to death for the 1988 murders of Rachael Raver and Warren Fulton, both of whom were 22 years old when they apparently were abducted as they left a Washington restaurant. They were killed in a field near Dulles International Airport. Their homicides had gone unsolved for nearly 20 years until a DNA test pointed to Prieto.
He was then on death row in California for the 1990 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl, who was abducted along with two other young women in Ontario. The other two victims were stabbed but survived to testify against Prieto.
DNA and ballistics tests had linked Prieto to four other homicides in Southern California during the same period.
While his appeals churned through the federal courts, Virginia prosecutors asked to have Prieto sent to Fairfax County to stand trial for the rape and double murder near Dulles airport. A DNA test also pointed to Prieto as the man who raped and killed a 24-year-old woman in Arlington.
A Virginia jury convicted Prieto of the crimes, and a judge imposed a death sentence. Unlike in California, Virginia has carried out executions of most inmates who have been condemned to death.
The Office of the Federal Public Defender in Los Angeles denounced Prieto's execution as a "travesty of justice."
"Mr. Prieto was in the midst of litigation in California to determine whether he was intellectually disabled," the office said in a statement. "If it [were] proven that he was, he would have been categorically exempt from the death penalty under federal constitutional law. ... Prieto should have been permitted to have his day in court on this vital issue."
On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt his execution.
Before this week, Virginia had carried out 110 executions since 1976 and, counting Prieto, had just eight inmates on death row. California has had 747 inmates sentenced to death, but has carried out only 13 executions since 1976.
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