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xx Samantha Runnion - CA
« Thread started on: Dec 30th, 2004, 09:18am »

Samantha was playing a board game with her 5-year-old friend, when a man (Pictured left) drove up in a light green Honda. The two children were sitting on a short wall about 150 feet from Samantha's home. The man got out of his car next to the girls and asked them for help finding his dog.
Samantha talked to the man before he grabbed her and drove off. The abduction occurred in Stanton, located 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The city is a mix of industrial sites, single-family homes and apartments.

Samantha was sexually assaulted and asphyxiated before her body was dumped in neighboring Riverside County near two-lane Highway 74 on the edge of the Cleveland National Forest, about 50 miles from Stanton. The road is a heavily traveled route between the two counties.

An autopsy confirmed Samantha Runnion of Stanton was sexually assaulted and the cause of death, which occurred sometime Tuesday, 16-JUL-2002.

Authorities confirmed that Alejandro Avila, 27, has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and killing 5-year-old Samantha Runnion

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The trial of Samantha Reunnion's kidnapper and murderer was planned for Nov. 2003, but should take place this coming January.

http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_avila11.a19a0.html
Despite overwhelming evidence against him, including DNA, the suspect maintains his 'innocence'.
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Let's focus our hearts and thoughts on Samantha!
http://crime.about.com/od/news/a/avila041118.htm
http://crime.allinfoabout.com/runnion/updates.html

Samantha's mother set up this beautiful memorial site for her daughter.
http://www.thejoyfulchild.org/pic5.html

Samantha is also remembered on these sites smiley cry
http://www.rinokids.com/Closed/Runnion/
http://www.keep-our-children-safe.com/sys-tmpl/totheparentsofsamantharunnion/
http://www.geocities.com/slainangels/
http://www.authorme.com/poet2/odetosamantharunnion.htm
http://www.mj-upbeat.com/SamanthaRunnion.htm http://www.courttv.com/news/runnion_gallery/01.html
http://wearemissing.freeservers.com/q-u/SamanthaRunnion.html
http://www.childseeknetwork.com/sam.html

More articles:
http://www.mtoomey.com/commentaries/samantha_runnion.html http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/08/12/runnion.coping/ http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/07/26/lkl.erin.runnion/
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/07/16/national/main515287.shtml http://www.authorme.com/poet2/odetosamantharunnion.htm
http://www.myparentime.com/articles/articleS238.shtml
http://wearemissing.freeservers.com/q-u/SamanthaRunnion.html http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/1567223/detail.html
http://www.rossde.com/editorials/edtl_runnion.html

« Last Edit: Feb 22nd, 2005, 5:38pm by FindCarrie » User IP Logged

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xx Trial to begin Monday for man accused in girl's 20
« Reply #1 on: Jan 10th, 2005, 07:23am »

Americas Amber Alert News Center(ST. LOUIS MO USA) AP-- Two-and-a-half years after his arrest, an ex-convict drifter goes on trial this week in the slaying of a 6-year-old girl he allegedly carried piggyback to her death near the ruins of a glass factory.

Jury selection was to begin Monday in the death-penalty case of Johnny Johnson, charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, attempted rape and armed criminal action in the death of Cassandra "Casey" Williamson.

Authorities said Johnson, who was spending the night at Williamson's home in the St. Louis suburb of Valley Park, admitted taking the girl the morning of July 26, 2002, then carrying her piggyback a few blocks to the old plant where he sometimes slept near the Meramec River.

There, police said, Johnson tried to sexually assault the child - barefoot and dressed in a white nightgown - and killed her when she resisted.

When later stopped and questioned by police, Johnson - wet and muddy - said he had been swimming in the river, authorities said. The body of the girl, who would have been a first-grader this fall, was found covered in leaves and rocks near the old factory after a seven-hour search.

An autopsy showed Casey died after being hit by a blunt object.Johnson had spent three to four days as an invited guest at a home shared by Casey's father, Ernie Williamson, and a roommate. Ernie Williamson said he had only known Johnson a few days before the slaying.

Johnson, who authorities said confessed to the crime, has been held without bond in the St. Louis County jail.His prosecution has been delayed while Johnson underwent psychological testing.

Authorities have not revealed a possible motive, but said without elaborating that the abduction had been planned.

Messages left Friday with St. Louis County prosecutors were not immediately returned.The property where the slaying took place has been cleared.

The case got national attention as one of several cases of child abductions involving young girls across the country at the time.

Those cases included the escape of a kidnapped 7-year-old girl from an abandoned rowhouse in Philadelphia, and Casey's death took place the same week a man was charged with kidnapping and killing 5-year-old Samantha Runnion of Stanton, Calif.

It also followed the high-profile kidnappings of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in Salt Lake City and of two San Diego children, 7-year-old Danielle van Dam and 2-year-old Jahi Turner.

Elizabeth later turned up safe, Jahi remains missing and Danielle was found slain. A neighbor of Danielle's later was convicted in her killing and sentenced to death.

http://www.teamamberalert.net/news/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=6563
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xx Judge keeps Haidl in jail until retrial
« Reply #2 on: Jan 11th, 2005, 07:19am »

SANTA ANA — A judge on Monday denied defense attorneys' requests to free gang-rape defendant Greg Haidl from jail and instead place him in a psychiatric hospital while he awaits retrial.

The family physician for Haidl, son of former Orange County Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl, testified Monday that the 19-year-old defendant suffers from major clinical depression, a serious anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Jeff Barke, who has treated Greg Haidl since the end of his first trial in June, said his patient's condition has declined since he was incarcerated in November.

"Greg has a physical and mental illness," Barke said. "Greg needs help. The type of healthcare he needs is not provided at the jail."

Greg Haidl has been in Orange County Jail since Judge Francisco Briseño revoked his bail after the teen was involved in an alcohol-related accident, a violation of his bail's terms.

He and friends Kyle Nachreiner and Keith Spann, both 20, are charged with the rape of an allegedly unconscious 16-year-old girl in 2002. That incident was videotaped in the elder Haidl's Corona del Mar home.

The retrial is set to start Jan. 31, after the first trial ended with a hung jury.

Greg Haidl has been in the mental ward of the jail since his bail was revoked. But a secure psychiatric hospital, like College Hospital on Victoria Street in Costa Mesa, would be more beneficial to Greg Haidl, attorney Pete Scalisi argued.

Barke, who said he visits Greg Haidl in jail two to three times a week, has recommended changes in the teen's medication.

"It's crazy, me as an outside physician trying to properly treat him when he's in jail," Barke said.

Briseño offered to make it easier for Barke to visit and treat Greg Haidl while he's in jail but said he would not release him while pending retrial. While incarcerated, the teen is being closely watched to make sure he doesn't try to harm himself, Briseño said.

Though he has not been convicted of a crime, Briseño said, Greg Haidl must stay in jail for now because he's failed to comply with the court's requests.

"Sometimes young people struggle to follow directions of parents, attorneys and the person wearing a black robe," Briseño said. "But leniency can only go so far."

During a recess after the judge's decision, Greg Haidl quietly sobbed and dabbed his eyes with a handkerchief as he spoke with Scalisi.

Also on Monday, Briseño rejected defense requests to subpoena masses of information from the Orange County Sheriff's Department and jail, including all surveillance videotape of Greg Haidl since his incarceration.

Defense attorneys in court played several television news broadcasts about the alleged firing of a Taser by deputies at Greg Haidl in jail last month. Those reports claimed the shooting came after he violated jailhouse rules by sharing a candy bar with Alejandro Avila, charged with the kidnap and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion in 2002.

Nachreiner's attorney, John Barnett, said the subpoenaed information was vital to determine how it could affect his client's case.

"It would have terrible consequences for my client if [Greg Haidl] is linked with a renowned child killer," Barnett said.

Jury selection is set to start today, with the first pool of 150 jurors coming into Briseño's courtroom. Masses of jurors will be screened each day this week in an attempt to see if the court can pool a sufficient number of people who have not already formed an opinion on the high-profile case.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/pilot/news/la-dpt-haidl11jan11,1,7496683.story?coll=la-tcn-pilot-news&ctrack=1&cset=true
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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #3 on: Jan 16th, 2005, 08:12am »

The trial against Samantha's accused abductor and murderer is constantly being delayed. The defense claims it needs more time to study the DNA evidence. The stalling tactic is a common defense tactic in cases were guilt is expected to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
http://www.fox6.com/news/state/story.aspx?content_id=9DA150BD-8099-4392-830E-9379FF20854F
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/state/20031121-1643-ca-samantharunnion.html

A virtual memorial site has been created for Samantha!
http://tinyurl.com/6pdvu
« Last Edit: Jan 16th, 2005, 08:35am by pattydee » User IP Logged

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xx Bautista showed stress disorder, psychologist says
« Reply #4 on: Feb 1st, 2005, 07:45am »


Testimony in the Jason Bautista murder trial ended Monday with a psychologist retained by the defense saying Bautista and his half-brother suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from being raised by an abusive mother.

Dr. Nancy Kaser-Boyd said she came to her diagnosis after the second of three interviews with Bautista, who is charged with strangling his mother in their Riverside apartment in January 2003.

He then lopped off Jane Bautista's head and hands with a cheap kitchen knife, an idea he said he got from an episode of "The Sopranos." Her corpse was found the next day tossed off the Ortega Highway in Orange County, and police later found the severed parts in a bag in the family's apartment.

Prosecutors maintain Bautista hated his mother because her mental illness disrupted his life and had planned the murder. Bautista's attorney said the slaying was in self-defense and that Bautista was the victim of long-term physical and emotional abuse and his mother's rages and paranoia.

The 11-woman, one-man jury will hear closing statements in a Santa Ana courtroom today.

Kaser-Boyd, a clinical and forensic psychologist and an associate professor at UCLA, said Bautista and his half-brother were raised in a damaging environment by a woman who showed "classic behavior of an abusive parent."

Such an experience can damage a person's emotional expression, she said.

"They can look very flat, almost cold," she said.

Under questioning from prosecutor Michael Murray, Kaser-Boyd acknowledged she frequently is a paid defense witness and has been hired as a consultant do to background work on Alejandro Avila. The Lake Elsinore man has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping 5-year-old Samantha Runnion from her Stanton home in July 2002 and sexually assaulting and killing her. Hearings over whether DNA evidence is admissible in that case are under way.

Kaser-Boyd is on the defense's witness list in the Avila case, Murray told the court.

The prosecutor asked the psychologist whether someone could fake post-traumatic stress disorder and she said it would be difficult. Murray also asked Kaser-Boyd, who interviewed Bautista for 10 hours, whether she took into account his history of lying. On the stand, Bautista had acknowledged repeatedly lying to police and others.

Earlier in the day, Murray continued his cross-examination of Bautista, asking the former Cal State San Bernardino biochemistry major why he killed his mother and whether the slaying was accidental or in self-defense.

"I'd say it was accidental self-defense," Bautista replied.

When Murray asked the defendant whether he thought he had to kill his mother to protect himself, Bautista paused and grimaced twice.

"I think so, sir," he said.

Although his mother had beaten him, tied him up and thrown things at him, Bautista said he did not see the need to move out, he told Murray.

"Even when things were bad, I still didn't see a need to," he said, later adding that he wanted to stay to help his half-brother through high school.

Also Monday, a former neighbor and defense witness was recalled to the stand and admitted she was mistaken last week when she said she wrote a letter to a sheriff's investigator telling him she had notified Child Protective Services about Jane Bautista's behavior. Jean Clement, who had lived next door to the slain woman and her two sons in Menifee, said Monday she had left a message for the detective but did not speak to him.

A representative for Ralphs said that whoever bought items Jan. 14 using Jason Bautista's Ralphs card got the store discount. Bautista last week said he went to the store to buy bleach, plastic bags and gloves and other items needed to dispose of his mother's body parts.

"So whoever was shopping that night wanted to make sure to get a break on their purchases?" Murray asked.
http://tinyurl.com/3o7yz
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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #5 on: Feb 15th, 2005, 09:33am »

Lawyers seek to move slaying trial
SAMANTHA RUNNION: Publicity prevents a fair trial in Orange County, a defense witness says.
11:49 PM PST on Monday, February 14, 2005
By LISA O'NEILL HILL and MIKE KATAOKA / The Press-Enterprise

Intense media coverage and public officials saying they were sure Alejandro Avila kidnapped and murdered "our" Samantha Runnion makes it impossible for Avila to get a fair trial in Orange County, a defense witness testified Monday during a change of venue hearing.

Edward Bronson, who has testified in numerous high-profile cases, including the state and federal trials of Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols, and American Taliban John Walker Lindh, also cited the mass fear that gripped Orange County after the 5-year-old was abducted and the outpouring after her death.

"It didn't affect people in anything like that kind of way anywhere else," said the professor emeritus of political science and law at Cal State Chico.

Attorneys for Avila, 29, of Lake Elsinore, are trying to get his capital murder trial moved out of Orange County, arguing the media blitz and statements made by public officials prejudice potential jurors. Prosecutors want the case to remain in Orange County. The change of venue hearing is expected to take three or four days.

The motion is only the second change of venue request in Orange County in the last two decades, a prosecutor said. The earlier motion failed and the defendant, John Joseph Famalaro, was convicted in 1994 of murdering Denise Huber, whose body had been stored in a freezer in a truck for three years.

Motions to move a trial from one county to another in California are routinely made but rarely granted. Only one or two trials a year are transferred, according to the state Administrative Office of the Courts.

The last two venue changes in California were the Scott Peterson murder trial and the so-called "Fajitagate" case in San Francisco.

Peterson killed his pregnant wife in Stanislaus County but was tried and convicted in San Mateo County.

The case against three San Francisco police officers involved in an off-duty street brawl was moved to Sacramento for trial.

Of particular concern, Bronson said, are statements made by Orange County Sheriff Mike Corona, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and President Bush.

After Avila was arrested, Corona said he was "100 percent certain" that Avila kidnapped and killed Samantha, whom he called "our little girl."

Rackauckas, who initially handled the prosecution of Avila, also said he was satisfied authorities had the right person. And President Bush lionized Corona and called him the fellow who "apprehended the killer of Samantha Runnion," a statement that was compared in court to one President Nixon made about Charles Manson.

People give those authorities a special credibility, Bronson said.

Avila is charged with kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing Samantha, who was kidnapped July 15, 2002 as she played near her home. Her nude body was found the next day along the Ortega Highway, west of Lake Elsinore. She had been asphyxiated.

Avila has pleaded not guilty. He could face the death penalty if convicted. Samantha's mother, Erin Runnion, sat in the second row Monday and often leaned forward during Bronson's testimony.

She clutched a pink and red teddy bear. Outside of court, she said she could not comment on the hearing.

More than 400 newspaper stories have been written about the Avila case, ranking it at least eighth and possibly as high as sixth out of all the cases Bronson has been involved with. He said he has testified at least 150 times, including 110 times on venue issues.

Bronson said he reviewed the coverage for inflammatory publicity, inadmissible material, inaccurate coverage and the presumption of guilt.

He said the coverage was accurate, but said he was disturbed by media reports that painted Avila's 1999 acquittal on child molestation charges in a negative light. Jurors who acquitted Avila in Riverside County were called idiots and publicly lambasted, especially on a local talk radio show, he said.

Avila was charged with molesting two 9-year-old cousins and accused of threatening a relative of one of the girls. Information about that trial could be inadmissible.

"That coverage is particularly troubling. The fact that somebody is acquitted is usually a good thing," Bronson said
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xx Expert: Jury pool tainted
« Reply #6 on: Feb 16th, 2005, 07:18am »

By LISA O'NEILL HILL / The Press-Enterprise
Two years after Samantha Runnion's slaying, Orange County residents still expressed anger and fear over the child's death, and nearly three-quarters of people polled believe Alejandro Avila killed the child, an expert testified Tuesday.

Edward Bronson, a professor emeritus of political science and law at Cal State Chico, said Avila, the Lake Elsinore man accused of killing Samantha, cannot get a fair trial in Orange County because it was clear county residents experienced the case in a personal way.

Bronson, an expert witness for the defense, conducted a survey in May of 407 people representative of the county's 3 million residents. He also analyzed what he called extraordinary and inflammatory media coverage, as well as statements made by public officials that portrayed Avila as guilty.

Avila's attorneys are trying to get his capital-murder trial moved elsewhere, arguing that local residents are emotionally invested in the case and have been prejudiced by hundreds of newspaper articles and other media coverage.

Prosecutors, who oppose the move, say they believe they can find fair jurors.

The hearing began Monday and is expected to last three or four days.

"I don't believe this, for me at least, is a very close call," Bronson testified Tuesday. "If a change-of-venue motion is not granted, it would be very difficult for him to get a fair trial."

Avila, 29, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing Samantha, who was snatched July 15, 2002, as she played behind her home. Her body was found the next day. Avila could face the death penalty if convicted.

Of those polled, 86 percent recognized the case -- a higher recognition rate than five other high-profile cases where Bronson said he opposed change-of-venue requests.

In the Orange County survey, 73 percent thought Avila was guilty.

Although the jury-selection process can often weed out prospective jurors who already have formed opinions, the process is not infallible because people do not often recognize their own biases, Bronson said.

"In certain types of cases, it has significant limitations, cases like this," Bronson said. When asked open-ended questions, the residents polled said the case made them weep, was disgusting, evil and sickening, and that it made them think of their own children.

Orange County residents had a high level of knowledge about the case, and those who knew a lot about it have prejudged Avila's guilt, reducing the potential jury pool, Bronson said.

http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_venue16.f3ff.html
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xx Judge set to rule on DNA
« Reply #7 on: Feb 17th, 2005, 07:08am »

SAMANTHA RUNNION: At issue is whether to allow evidence against the man accused of killing her.
11:24 PM PST on Wednesday, February 16, 2005
By LISA O'NEILL HILL / The Press-Enterprise



An Orange County judge is scheduled to decide today whether future jurors will hear about DNA evidence linking Alejandro Avila to Samantha Runnion's death.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys presented closing arguments to Superior Court Judge William H. Froeberg on Wednesday afternoon, ending weeks of hearings about the reliability of DNA testing in the case. Six scientists testified for the prosecution and five for the defense.

The hearings have focused on mitochondrial DNA analysis, done on nine hairs found in the Lake Elsinore man's car and on a single dark brown hair. Prosecutors would not say where that hair was found. Y-STR analysis, designed to identify male DNA, was conducted on foreign DNA found under the 5- year-old'sfingernails.

A DNA expert said during the hearing that Avila could not be excluded as the source.

"The scientific testing, all the DNA testing in this case, meets all the standards required," prosecutor Camille Hill said. She said defense witnesses made "unfounded conclusions," conducted no scientific research and were unqualified to make their findings.

To analyze the DNA, prosecutors relied on methods that are relatively new and rare in criminal cases, but widely accepted in the scientific community.

They have argued that the testing is sound. Defense attorneys have questioned the methodology and analysis, and maintain the findings are flawed.

Phil Zalewski, one of Avila's attorneys, argued that prosecution witnesses will gain financially if the judge allows the evidence, because other courts likely will follow suit.

Mitochondrial DNA "is highly susceptible to contamination, and that is what makes part of it unreliable," he said.

He also said the scientific testing was not right for the forensic application.

"Chemotherapy make work well for a kind of cancer, but no one would want to try it on tonsillitis," he said.

Avila, a 29-year-old factory worker, is charged with kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing Samantha, who was snatched July 15, 2002, as she played in an alley behind her home. Her nude body, which authorities said had been posed, was found the next day along the Ortega Highway west of Lake Elsinore.

She had been asphyxiated.

Avila has pleaded not guilty to the crimes. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Samantha's mother, Erin Runnion, has been in court during the weeks of technical hearings, filling large notebooks with the testimony she hears.

Testimony in a change-of-venue hearing is expected to resume Wednesday.

http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_avila17.57e8d.html
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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #8 on: Feb 18th, 2005, 5:35pm »

The judge has ruled to allow this DNA evidence in the trial against Samantha's accused murderer.
http://www.sanluisobispo.com/mld/sanluisobispo/10926124.htm
__________________________________________
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A judge Thursday ruled that prosecutors will be allowed to use DNA evidence - including a form of the genetic material rarely used in criminal trials - against the man accused of kidnapping and killing 5-year-old Samantha Runnion in 2002.

Rejecting defense arguments to exclude the genetic evidence, Orange County Superior Court Judge William Froeberg said he will allow prosecutors to use mitochondrial DNA and the more frequently used nuclear DNA in the upcoming trial of Alejandro Avila.

Froeberg also ruled that a relatively new form of DNA analysis known as Y-STR testing is scientifically valid and should be allowed as evidence in the high-profile trial.

Avila, 29, has pleaded not guilty to killing and kidnapping the girl, who was abducted in July 2002 as she played with a friend outside her Stanton home. The DNA evidence is important but not crucial to the prosecution's case, said Susan Schroeder, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

"It's just one of the many layers that we have," Schroeder said.

Assistant Public Defender Denise Gragg had sought to have the DNA evidence excluded, arguing that it was improperly collected and not reliable.

Unlike nuclear DNA, which can pinpoint a single person as the probable source, mitochondrial DNA can only rule out a person as a source and is therefore less useful in a criminal trial. It was first admitted into evidence in California in the successful prosecution of David Westerfield for the 2001 murder of 7-year Danielle van Dam in San Diego.

Prosecutors in the Avila case have not disclosed the source of the DNA they plan to introduce at trial and they have not said what other evidence they have that allegedly links the former factory worker from Lake Elsinore to the crime.

Froeberg is expected to rule next week on a defense request to move the trial out of Orange County because of the intense publicity that the case has attracted.

Avila faces special circumstances charges in the case that make him eligible for the death penalty, if convicted.
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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #9 on: Feb 27th, 2005, 4:28pm »

The trial against the suspect in Samantha's murder will be held in Orange County.
http://www.sanluisobispo.com/mld/sanluisobispo/10988631.htm

Assistant Public Defender Denise Gragg argued that the intense media coverage and public reaction made it necessary to move the trial to another county.

However, Judge William Froeberg said it should be possible to find jurors who have not prejudged the case in Orange County, the fifth-largest in the nation with a population of about 3 million people.

Froeberg said the charges - kidnap, sexual assault and murder of a child - are likely to turn jurors in any location against Avila.

"The nature of the crime is something the defendant can't escape," he said.
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xx Judge: Avila's rights not violated
« Reply #10 on: Mar 6th, 2005, 12:05am »

Judge: Avila's rights not violated

RUNNION SLAYING: Statements the accused made to police before his arrest are admissible.


Most of Alejandro Avila's statements to police three days after Samantha Runnion was kidnapped can be used as evidence in his capital murder trial, a judge has decided.

Avila's attorneys had argued that his Miranda rights had been violated during a 10-hour interview with two Orange County sheriff's homicide investigators.

Prosecutors argued that Miranda did not apply because Avila was not under arrest at the time.




Orange County Superior Court Judge William Froeberg allowed most of Avila's statements, excluding only what Avila said after he asked for an attorney.

Avila, a 29-year-old Lake Elsinore factory worker, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing the 5-year-old, who was kidnapped July 15, 2002 as she played in an alley behind her Stanton home. Samantha's body was found the next day. Avila could face the death penalty if convicted.

Today, Froeberg will preside over proceedings to determine which prospective jurors could serve in a trial that could last several months.

Jury selection is expected to begin in mid-March and opening statements could begin March 28.

Last month, attorneys argued over whether the jurors should hear what Avila told police when he accompanied them to the Lake Elsinore sheriff's station on July 18.

"In fact, there was no Miranda violation in this case because in fact the defendant was not in custody," Orange County Deputy District Attorney James Mulgrew said to the judge last month.

Avila was cooperative throughout the interview, Mulgrew said, and the interview was low-key and nonconfrontational.

Assistant Public Defender Denise Gragg disagreed, saying the court needed to look at the totality of the situation. The length of time of the interview is a "huge factor in this case," she said. Avila was left in the interview room sometimes by himself as two investigators went in and out, telling other detectives to verify what he said.

"Nobody under those circumstances would feel like they are free to leave," Gragg told the court.

Froeberg's decision is the latest blow to the defense. The judge rejected the defense's request to have the trial moved out of Orange County and has allowed the results of DNA testing that authorities say links Avila to Samantha's death to be admitted during the trial.

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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #11 on: Mar 16th, 2005, 2:02pm »

Prospective jurors questioned for Orange County trial of alleged child killer

Attorneys began questioning 159 prospective jurors Monday in the trial of a man charged with the kidnap, sexual assault and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion.

Lawyers are trying to select a panel to hear the case against Alejandro Avila, which could take up to four months. Opening statements are scheduled to begin March 21.
Avila, a 30-year-old factory worker from Lake Elsinore, could face the death penalty if convicted. Last month, a judge refused to move the case out of Orange County, where 4,000 people attended her funeral and the sheriff said he was certain of Avila's guilt.

Superior Court Judge William Froeberg said the court should be able to find enough impartial jurors through the jury selection process.

Samantha was snatched while playing outside her home in Stanton on July 15, 2002. Her nude body was found the next day in mountains 50 miles away.
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2005/03/14/state/n212801S95.DTL
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xx Orange County jury selected in Samantha Runnion ca
« Reply #12 on: Mar 18th, 2005, 05:26am »

SANTA ANA, Calif. - A jury was selected Thursday for the trial of the man accused of abducting and killing 5-year-old Samantha Runnion.

It took four days to winnow a pool of nearly 160 potential jurors to a panel of eight men, four women and six alternates for the trial of Alejandro Avila, which is expected to last up to four months.

Opening statements are expected to start Monday.

The jurors range in age from 35 to 70 and have 27 children between them.

Avila, a factory worker from Lake Elsinore, could face the death penalty if convicted.

Samantha was snatched while playing outside her home in Stanton on July 15, 2002. Her nude body was found the next day in mountains 50 miles away.
http://www.montereyherald.com/mld/montereyherald/news/politics/11163657.htm
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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #13 on: Mar 20th, 2005, 11:06am »

Erin- My heart and prayers will be right there with you Monday when this trial starts on this animal. You have fought long and hard for almost 3 yrs now,which is so ridiculous to me, and I know you will NEVER give up until this monster gets what he deserves!! I wish I could be there,but I am counting on updates PLEASE,and I do hope this is it on Monday!!! As always Samantha is always on my mind and will always be. his may tend to get out of hand,but you know that there are millions of people out there that just will never forget and want severe, swift justice...I just hope they keep it out of the courtroom and dont make a scene. I will be waiting everyday for an update from orange county I love You--God Bless
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xx Trial starting for man accused of killing Samantha
« Reply #14 on: Mar 21st, 2005, 06:51am »

SANTA ANA, Calif. Opening statements are scheduled today in the trial of the man accused of killing Samantha Runnion.

She's the five-year-old girl abducted while playing outside her home in Stanton, California on July 15th, 2002. Her body was found the next day in mountains 50 miles away.

Most of the jurors selected for Alejandro Avila's trial said in questionnaires they favor the death penalty for heinous murders. But they also told the judge they could set aside their personal beliefs and consider a sentence of life in prison without parole if the evidence calls for it.

A panel of eight men, four women and six alternates will hear the case, which is expected to last up to four months.
http://www.wtvo.com/Global/story.asp?S=3103056
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