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Convicted killer has review denied

BURBANK — The California Supreme Court has refused to hear the case of David Rademaker, a Burbank resident serving a life sentence for murder and kidnapping in connection with the 1992 slaying of a model, the court announced Wednesday.

“This certainly wasn’t unexpected,” Rademaker’s lawyer Tracy Dressner said. “The [state Supreme Court] grants reviews in 2% of its cases.”

Rademaker’s review was denied without comment from the state’s highest court, clerk Jose Perez said.

“The Supreme Court doesn’t have to state a reason,” he said. “The only time they do is when they have to write an opinion.”

In 2006, the Burbank resident and convicted sex offender was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering 21-year-old model Kimberly Pandelios.

The appeal to the state’s high court followed a lower court’s rejection of his claim that there was insufficient evidence to prove the killing occurred during a kidnapping, court documents said.

Dressner said they were trying to overturn the kidnapping component, which was the basis of the special circumstance under which Rademaker was convicted of first-degree murder.

There are about 20 so-called special circumstances associated with murder charges, which carry sentences of life without the possibility of parole or death, Dressner said. One of them is kidnapping.

Because Rademaker was found to have killed Pandelios after she was kidnapped, he was convicted of life without parole, she said.

However, Dressner maintains that the jury was improperly instructed, leading to the challenge brought before the state high court.

“Had the judge properly instructed the jury, they would not have found him guilty of kidnapping,” she said. “He then would not have been convicted of first-degree murder. He would have maybe received a second-degree charge or manslaughter.”

A second-degree murder charge carries a conviction of 15 years to life.

The definition of kidnapping changed from the time the murder was committed in 1992 to his conviction in 2006, she said.

“The definition of kidnapping became more expansive at the time of the trial,” she said. “In [1992], it was strictly about the distance someone was moved by force or fear. But the jury was told to look at all these [kidnapping] factors. Did that error contribute to [the] verdict? Absolutely.”

There are still legal avenues for appeal, though Dressner has yet to discuss them with her client.

“He doesn’t even know about this yet, but the next legal option is to bring his claim in U.S. District Court, and then appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals,” Dressner said.

She added that they intend to continue the appeals process.


 JEREMY OBERSTEIN covers City Hall and public safety. He may be reached at (818) 637-3242 or by e-mail at jeremy.oberstein@latimes.com.


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