SANTA ANA, Calif. (CBS/AP) Serial killer and "The Dating Game" winner, Rodney Alcala, was sentenced to death by a California jury Tuesday. But the 66-year-old was convicted twice before for the murder of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe and both times he was able to wiggle out of it. Will the death sentence stick this time?
Prosecutors easily convinced the jury that Alcala was responsible for Samsoe's 1979 killing, as well as four previously unsolved murders between 1977 and 1979.
Relatives of the victims erupted in applause Tuesday as the jury handed
down the death penalty, after deliberating for about an hour.
Alcala, an amateur photographer and UCLA graduate with a purported IQ of 180, chose to represent himself.
His bizarre strategy included grilling the mother of one of his victims, cross-examining police investigators and answering his own questions while taking the stand in his own defense. He also presented lyrics from an Arlo Guthrie song and showed an episode of 1960s television show "The Dating Game," which he won.
Neither the jury nor Robin Samsoe's older brother, Robert Samsoe, were impressed.
Robin Samsoe of Huntington Beach was kidnapped while riding a bicycle to ballet class on June 20, 1979. Her body was found 12 days later in the Angeles National Forest, where it had been mutilated by wild animals.
Alcala was arrested a month after Samsoe's disappearance when his parole agent recognized him from a police sketch and called authorities. Alcala has been in custody ever since.
He was first tried and convicted for Samsoe's murder and sentenced to death in 1980. An appeals court later threw that conviction out because it ruled that the jury never should have heard about Alcala's prior attacks on young girls.
Prosecutors tried him again, convicted him again, and got the death penalty again, in 1986.
That case went all the way through the appeals process only to be thrown out in 2003, 24 years after the crime, by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, that time on the grounds that testimony from the first trial shouldn't have been allowed in the second.
In 2006 investigators discovered forensic evidence linking him to those crimes, including DNA found on three of the women, a bloody handprint and marker testing done on blood Alcala left on a towel in the fourth victim's home.
Prosecutors added those charges to the third, and the victims' families hope the last, trial.
The jury convicted Alcala on Feb. 25 of killing Samsoe as well as Jill Barcomb, 18, who had just moved to Los Angeles from Oneida, N.Y.; Georgia Wixted, 27, of Malibu; Charlotte Lamb, 32, of Santa Monica; and Jill Parenteau, 21, of Burbank.
The jury also agreed on special-circumstance allegations of rape, torture and kidnapping, making Alcala eligible for the death penalty.
"Thirty-six people now have convicted him of death and that's a great feeling knowing that Robin did not die for nothing," he said. "We took a monster off the street; we've got closure for other families who didn't have it."
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