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$907M Award In Einhorn Trial

A civil jury Wednesday awarded the family of murder victim Helen "Holly" Maddux $907 million in the wrongful death suit against fugitive Ira Einhorn.

The Maddux family convinced the jury that the former counterculture guru should pay for the 1977 death of his live-in girlfriend, effectively preventing him from profiting from any book or movie deals about the high-profile case.

In deliberations that took just over an hour, the six-member jury awarded the family $752 million in punitive damages and $155 million in compensatory damages.

"My brain doesn't go that high," said Maddux's sister, Elizabeth Hall. "I couldn't have stood up then, if you'd pulled me to my feet."

Hall said she did not expect to see the money, "but that really never has been the point. This is a kind of psychological blow to Ira. I hope it hurts."

Family members displayed no reaction as the verdict was read, sitting quietly in their seats.

Later, the six-member jury was granted permission by the judge to speak with the Maddux family. Jurors and family members exchanged hugs, kisses and handshakes.

"It's just an indication of how many good people there are in the world," said Maddux's brother, John.

The punitive award against Einhorn "has got to be so substantial that it will be a shot heard around the world," Maddux family attorney James R. Beasley urged the jury in closing arguments this morning.

The verdict came over 24 hours after the trial began, with no attorney for Einhorn present. Einhorn, convicted in absentia in 1993 of the murder, did not attend and is fighting extradition from France. He did not send a lawyer.

During Tuesday's opening arguments, jurors were shown a large steamer trunk and were told that for more than a year it held Maddux's body.

Beasley added that Einhorn killed Maddux as she was trying to escape an abusive relationship. Her family became concerned when Maddux, who was very close to her family in Tyler, Texas, did not write or phone to wish her mother a happy birthday, Beasley said.

But Einhorn maintained that Maddux told him she was going shopping and never came back.

While Maddux was bludgeoned to death in 1977, her decayed body was not found until 18 months later in a closet in Einhorn's home.

The lawsuit was filed in 1997 in response to rumors that Einhorn was talking to publishers about a book. Beasley, who is representing Maddux's family on a pro bono basis, noted that stories about Einhorn already have appeared on major TV newsmagazine shows, and there was a television miniseries about the case.

A prominent antiwar campaigner and activist in the 1960s, Einhorn, now 58, fled the United States shortly before his 1981 trial and was sentenced to life in prison following the 1993 trial.

After 16 years in hiding, he was tracked down and arrested at his home in the French countryside in June 1997However, a French court refused to extradite him because French law does not allow for trial without the defendant being present. After Pennsylvania passed a law promising a retrial, Einhorn was rearrested in September 1998.

In February, a French court ordered him extradited provided that he be retried and not face the death penalty. Einhorn remains free in France while appealing the extradition order.