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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #15 on: Mar 21st, 2005, 09:10am »

I started another thread for Samantha at: http://tinyurl.com/44moh
If the accused is proven guilty i hope he serves as a frightening example to any potential predator, who's considering commiting such an unspeakably horrible crime.
There can never be true justice to compensate for such atrocities and we won't ever get Samantha back, but hopefully we can frighten such evildoers into keeping their lusts to themselves and save future Samanthas.
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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #16 on: Mar 21st, 2005, 10:34am »

I wanted to share this picture that was to the Two Kristin's Moderator from Samantha Runnion's mom.

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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #17 on: Mar 21st, 2005, 5:10pm »

sad cry And I couldnt even hardly go on either board today thinking about this presious angel. It has been a long, long road and I can only hope and pray when justice does FINALLY come, that it will be 1 million times more terrible than it was for Samantha and her family. Her Mother Erin is an amazing woman and I know she will do everything possible to make sure this animal pays and Samantha is never forgotten. This little girl truely stole my heart and made me want to get involved, and I was never the same after that.

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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #18 on: Mar 22nd, 2005, 01:37am »

Samantha Runnion's DNA was found in defendant Alejandro Avila's car, and his was found under the dead 5-year-old's fingernails, the jury is told. And defendant Alejandro Avila’s DNA was found under the girl’s fingernails after her body was found the day after her abduction in July 2002, Deputy District Attorney David Brent said during his opening statement to the jury. Brent said that DNA was found inside Avila's Ford Thunderbird. The genetic material was found in what Brent said were dried tears recovered from a door handle. cry

Deputy Public Defender Phil Zalewski told the jury in his opening statement that cell-phone records show that it would have been difficult for Avila to have been with Samantha at the time of her death.

Zalewski said that his client was obsessed over a breakup with his girlfriend, and he was driving around randomly, the cell-phone records show.

Responding to the prosecution's allegations about evidence, he said that the origin of the DNA was suspicious.

Both attorneys spoke for about 15 minutes. Avila sat quietly at the counsel table. Erin Runnion, Samantha's mother, and her husband, Ken Donnelly, sat in the second row.

Virginia Runnion, a witness for the prosecution, said she was caring for her granddaughter at about 6:30 p.m. on July 15, 2002, when Sarah Anh, Samantha's 6-year-old playmate, came running in and told her, "Samantha's been taken, a man came and took Samantha."

Virginia Runnion said she called 911 and rushed outside the family's Stanton condominium to see if she could see the kidnapper's car but was too late.

Avila, 30, of Lake Elsinore, is charged with sexually assaulting and suffocating the girl. Samantha's body was found off Ortega (74) Highway in an area popular with hang gliders.

Avila was questioned by sheriff's deputies three days after the abduction, then arrested on the fourth day.

Avila had been acquitted in January 2001 in Riverside County on charges of molesting two girls, 8 and 9, who were the daughter and cousin of an ex-girlfriend.

Members of the family told police that one girl Avila was accused of molesting had lived in the same Stanton condominium as Samantha until about six months before Samantha was killed.

Avila faces the death sentence if convicted.



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xx DNA evidence questioned
« Reply #19 on: Mar 23rd, 2005, 05:36am »

By: Capital News 9 web staff



A battle is brewing in California over DNA evidence in the trial of the man accused of killing five-year-old Samantha Runnion.

As the murder trial of Alejandro Avila gets underway the defendant's attorney said investigators planted DNA evidence in his client's car.

Prosecutor's said that claim is absurd and is not how law enforcement works.
A battle is brewing in California over DNA evidence in the trial of the man accused of killing five-year-old Samantha Runnion.
Avila is accused of abducting Runnion back in 2002.

Police said he killed her shortly after the abduction. The trial is expected to take several months
http://www.capitalnews9.com/content/headlines/?ArID=123262&SecID=33
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xx Samantha Runnion's friend recalls moment of horror
« Reply #20 on: Mar 23rd, 2005, 08:38am »

Samantha Runnion's friend recalls moment of horror
The girl was among the first witnesses in the trial of Alejandro Avila, a 30-year-old factory worker charged with murder.
By The Associated Press



SANTA ANA - The two friends were playing outside on a summer evening when a man pulled up, approached them with a story about a lost puppy and then whisked away 5-year-old Samantha Runnion.

It was the start of one of the most notorious crimes in recent Southern California history, an abduction and murder that prompted a massive outpouring and grief for a girl whose nude body was found the next day in mountains 50 miles away.
He just picked her up," Samantha's playmate, Sarah Ahn, said Monday. "She was screaming ... She was shaking, kicking, trying to get loose."

Ahn, now 9, was among the first witnesses as the trial began for Alejandro Avila, a 30-year-old factory worker charged with kidnapping, sexually assault and murder of Samantha on July 15, 2002. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

Ahn's description helped produce a composite sketch that closely resembles Avila. She testified that she couldn't remember all the details of the night of the abduction, and the defense focused on elements of her description that don't match the defendant or his car.

Assistant District Attorney David Brent, speaking to jurors in opening statements, outlined a prosecution case that includes cell phone and debit card records, scrapings of Avila's DNA from beneath Samantha's fingernails and genetic material from the 5-year-old found in two places inside the defendant's car.

A sample of the girl's DNA discovered along the inside of the passenger door may have come from Samantha's tears, Brent said, though later he added that it was also consistent with mucous.

Defense attorney Philip Zalewski, meanwhile, suggested to jurors that Samantha's DNA was planted inside Avila's car, claiming that an earlier search turned up no genetic material linking him to the abduction.

Brent rejected the accusation and said the earlier search was only for fingerprints.

"What I thought was frankly outlandish was the suggestion that the evidence was planted. ... It's very disturbing to me that they would even suggest that. It's not the way law enforcement works in this county," Brent told reporters outside the courtroom.

In his opening statement, Zalewski said Avila's DNA found beneath Samantha's fingernails was improperly collected and that there were a number of inconsistencies in witness accounts.

Avila took a rambling drive through parts of Orange and Riverside counties on the day of Samantha's disappearance because he was upset about a recent breakup with his girlfriend, he said.

"Please keep an open mind," Zalewski told jurors.

Samantha's mother, Erin, sat in the second row of the courtroom with her husband, Kenneth Donnelly. When Brent mentioned the DNA that may have come from the child's tears, she shielded her eyes with one hand and looked down.

"None of this has been easy," she said in a statement. "But it will be especially difficult to revisit all of the details as they are filtered through the parameters of a courtroom."

Samantha's nude body was found a day after her disappearance along a highway between Orange County and the Riverside County community of Lake Elsinore, where Avila was living with his sister. Her corpse appeared to have been posed and an autopsy determined she had been sexually assaulted before she died, Brent said.

More than 4,000 people attended her funeral and the case prompted California to immediately post alerts on freeway signs whenever a child was abducted.

The girl's death came amid a string of incidents involving children, including the murder of 7-year-old Danielle van Dam of San Diego and the abduction of 15-year-old Elizabeth Smart in Utah.

Avila was arrested three days after Samantha's disappearance when authorities received a tip from the family of a child who he was previously accused of molesting and lived in the same complex as the Runnions in the city of Stanton.

In 2001, Avila was acquitted by a Riverside County jury of molesting two girls. Last month, Orange County Superior Court Judge William Froeberg said prosecutors could tell jurors about the previous allegations and call the alleged victims as witnesses.

http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/regstate/articles/1390082.html
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xx Woman details relationship with Avila
« Reply #21 on: Mar 24th, 2005, 07:07am »

By: JOHN HALL - Staff Writer

SANTA ANA ---- A former girlfriend of the Lake Elsinore man accused of killing 5-year-old Samantha Runnion told jurors Wednesday that she broke up with Alejandro Avila because he wanted to be alone with her young daughter.

Avila, 30, of Lake Elsinore, is on trial in a Santa Ana courtroom, charged with the kidnap, sexual assault and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

Samantha was abducted from outside her Stanton home on July 15, 2002. The little girl's nude body was found the next day along a quiet stretch of Killen Trail, not far from Ortega Highway, in the hills west of Lake Elsinore.


The Stanton townhouse complex where Samantha was living when she was kidnapped is also where Lizbeth Veglahn's former husband lived in 1997 when Avila allegedly molested the couple's then-7-year-old daughter.

Outside the courtroom, Assistant District Attorney David Brent talked about the importance of that connection he hopes the jury will see.

"There are two ways to look at it," he said. "The most sinister is that (Avila) went back there to look for (the girl who says she was molested). The other, the prosecutor said, could be that Avila was familiar with the place and knew there would be children there.

"Something was drawing him there," Brent said. "Either the memory of the previous molestations or the girl herself."

Veglahn testified Wednesday that, after meeting Avila in the summer of 1996, the two moved in together several months later and lived together for about three years.

She said her daughter ---- then 9 years old ---- told her in December 1999 that Avila had molested her numerous times two years earlier.

Veglahn and her husband were not married at that time and the alleged molestations happened when her daughter would come to Lake Elsinore to visit her.

She called Lake Elsinore police and Avila was later charged with molesting that girl, as well as another the same age. But in 2001, a Riverside County jury acquitted Avila of the charges.

The eight-man, four-woman Orange County jury is being allowed to hear testimony about the two prior molestation cases even though Avila was acquitted. Orange County Superior Court Judge William Froeberg ruled before the trial started that the jury could hear about the previous cases only to establish whether he has a predisposition to commit sex-related offenses. The jury is also being told of the acquittals.

Brent, who is prosecuting Avila in the murder case, has previously said that the earlier molestation allegations against Avila show a possible motive for his killing Samantha.

In opening statements Monday, Brent said it's possible Avila killed Samantha after kidnapping and sexually assaulting her so he wouldn't have to face another molestation trial.

During her testimony Wednesday, Veglahn told jurors about concerns she had about her relationship back when she and Avila were dating and living together. Veglahn said Avila showed "a little more favoritism toward my daughter than my boys." She also said Avila angered easily.

Veglahn confirmed on the stand that she once told police she considered their relationship "odd," and that he told her he "liked blonde-haired, blue-eyed girls" and asked her to dress up in "junior-style clothing."

Veglahn was also asked by the prosecutor about where her then-7-year-old daughter would sleep when she would come visit her and Avila.

"With us," she replied.

"Whose idea was that?" Brent asked.

With a tone of disgust and a sigh in her voice, Veglahn said, "His." She added that she didn't think it was appropriate. She also said the reason she broke up with Avila was because he wanted to be alone with her daughter.

Veglahn's now-14-year-old daughter, who has a different last name, also testified Wednesday. She is the third teenage girl who has detailed for the Orange County jury how Avila allegedly molested them when they were children. Two other girls testified Tuesday.

One of those girls, also now 14, reported the alleged crimes to police and Avila was acquitted by the same Riverside County jury in the 2001 case which involved Veglahn's daughter. The third girl didn't report the alleged molestations until after Avila was arrested on suspicion of Samantha's murder.

Veglahn's daughter told jurors that Avila touched her vagina with his hand more than 50 times and with his penis more than 30 times over about a one-year period.

Brent asked the girl why she didn't tell anyone about what was happening until December 1999, more than two years after the molestations started.

"I was scared," the teen said, clearing her throat then continuing, "that I wouldn't be able to see my mother or Avila would hurt me or my mother."

When asked by Brent if Avila ever threatened her during the molestations, the girl said he did.

The teen periodically glanced toward Avila during her 90 minutes on the witness stand, but then would quickly turn her gaze elsewhere.

She stayed composed throughout her testimony, but broke down in tears during a break while jurors were out of the courtroom. Erin Runnion, Samantha's mother, hugged the girl, then rubbed her back while offering words of encouragement.

Paul Zalewski, one of Avila's attorneys, attacked many specifics of the girl's testimony, asking her about discrepancies between what she said Wednesday and what she testified to in the Riverside County trial or what she told authorities during that investigation.

He questioned her repeatedly about differences such as dates, the number of times she was molested and whether or not Avila videotaped one or all of the molestations.

Riverside County sheriff's Detective Eric Davis also testified and told jurors he interviewed Avila after the molestations described by the teen girl Wednesday were reported to authorities.

During the January 2000 interviews, Avila repeatedly denied touching the girl's vagina, Davis said. Avila later, however, admitted he had touched the girl there about 12 times while bathing her and about six times between her legs when putting lotion on her after trips to the beach, the detective said.

Testimony in the trial is scheduled to resume Monday at Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/03/24/news/californian/23_33_273_23_05.txt
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xx Jurors In Runnion Case Hear About Prior Molestatio
« Reply #22 on: Mar 25th, 2005, 05:41am »

Alejandro Avila is charged in one of the most notorious crimes in recent Southern California history.

One of two girls who accused Avila of molestation years before his arrest is due to take the witness stand today. Avila was acquitted in 2001 of molesting the girls, but the presiding judge in the current trial is allowing their testimonies so the prosecution can argue that Avila is prone to commit sex crimes.

Wednesday, the other girl testified that in 1997, when she was 7, Avila touched her and her cousin while he was baby-sitting them.

A third girl, who was not part of that criminal case, also testified that Avila molested her the night before they were to take a trip to Knott's Berry Farm. She told the jury he choked her more than 10 times on other occasions.
http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/4314471/detail.html
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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #23 on: Mar 28th, 2005, 1:46pm »

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- The mother of the man accused of murdering 5-year-old Samantha Runnion was treated by paramedics Monday after suffering an apparent seizure while on the witness stand in Santa Ana.

Adelina Avila, mother of Alejandro Avila, was escorted to a back room after she began to shake and tremble.

Asked about her condition, the woman said: "I'm just having a seizure." She also said that she would be OK.

The judge temporarily halted the proceedings, which were expected to resume later this morning. A condition report on the woman was not immediately available.

Alejandro Avila, a 30-year-old factory worker, could face the death penalty of convicted of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and suffocating Samantha, who was abducted while playing in an alley outside her family's Stanton condominium on July 15, 2002.

A man lured the youngster close enough to his car by saying he was looking for his lost Chihuahua, authorities said. Samantha's body was found the next day off Ortega (74) Highway in an area popular with hang gliders.

The crime triggered the biggest manhunt in Orange County history and drew national media coverage.

Suspicion focused on Avila through a tip from the public.

The Lake Elsinore resident was questioned by sheriff's deputies from about 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. on July 18. He was arrested the next day.

In opening statements a week ago, Assistant District Attorney David Brent told the jury that the girl's DNA, believed to be from tears, was found Avila's green 1994 Ford Thunderbird.

A playmate of Samantha's -- 6-year-old Sarah Ahn -- said her friend screamed and cried for help when she was kidnapped by a man driving a green car, Brent said.

Other evidence includes cell phone records, tire tracks consistent with the Thunderbird's tires and foot prints at the site where Samantha's nude body was found, the prosecutor said.

But Deputy Public Defender Phil Zalewski told jurors that much of the prosecution's case rests on circumstantial evidence.

Zalewski said the tire tracks were found on rocky material, which "is not very good for gathering this kind of evidence."

Prosecutors cannot match the tires precisely, Zalewski said. And while certain shoeprints sized 11½ or 12 were found, Avila wears a size 10½, Zalewski said.

The prosecutor said tire tracks found at the place off Ortega Highway where Samantha was found "could have come from a Ford Thunderbird" and that a search of Avila's mother's home turned up shoe boxes with with the kind of shoe whose prints were found at the scene.

Brent said Samantha was snatched from the Smoke Tree condominium complex in Stanton about 6:30 p.m.

Cell phone records show Avila's sister called him at 5:46 p.m. on July 15, 2002 and that he was in the area of Corona. Brent said. Avila could have driven to Stanton in time to kidnap Samantha, the prosecutor said.

But Zalewski said Avila was upset over an unraveled relationship with a girlfriend and was driving around to clear his head. He said Stanton is 33 miles away from Corona and that the drive between the two during rush hour would be difficult.

"Corona is the closest point the prosecutor can show Avila anywhere near (Stanton)," Zalewski said.
http://www.nbc4.tv/news/4323231/detail.html
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xx DNA report puts victim in Avila's car
« Reply #24 on: Mar 29th, 2005, 07:09am »

By LARRY WELBORN
The Orange County Register


SANTA ANA – Genetic material recovered from inside a child-slaying suspect's Ford Thunderbird has a one in a trillion chance of belonging to anyone other than Samantha Runnion, a forensic scientist testified Monday.

The DNA was recovered from the console between the front seats and on the door handle and door pull on the passenger side of a car that Alejandro Avila, 30, of Lake Elsinore, was driving on July 15, 2002 – the day 5-year-old Samantha was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and suffocated, Orange County Sheriff's Crime Lab scientist Edward Buse testified.

Samantha, a curly-haired Stanton girl, might have left her DNA inside the car in her tears as she fought off her attacker, Assistant District Attorney David Brent told the jury in his opening statements.

The little girl's nude and battered body was found the next day near the Killen truck trail off the Ortega Highway, not far from Avila's apartment in Lake Elsinore.

Buse also testified Monday that genetic material recovered from under a fingernail on Samantha's left hand contains her own DNA, plus DNA that has a one in 600 million chance of belonging to anyone other than Avila.

Buse's testimony was the first time that the specific frequency of DNA matches has been revealed in the trial.

"We don't intend to leave this evidence unimpeached," Assistant Public Defender Denise Gragg, one of two Avila lawyers, said Monday.

In his opening statement last week, Deputy Public Defender Phil Zalewski said the DNA evidence from Avila's car is suspicious because it was not recovered until five months after the kidnapping and after Avila's car had been thoroughly "superglued" for fingerprints by sheriff's investigators.

In other developments, testimony from Avila's mother was cut short when she began twitching, shaking and complaining of a seizure. Paramedics rushed to the courthouse and examined Adelina Avila, who said she suffered a stroke in 2003, in the jury room. But she left on her own after about an hour, saying she felt better.

Before she was stricken, Adelina Avila testified that her son had promised to barbecue some chicken for her July 15, 2002. But she testified that her son forgot to make the chicken and instead left their Lake Elsinore apartment and started driving around randomly.

Elvira Avila, the defendant's sister, testified that her brother left their apartment at 4 p.m. on the day Samantha disappeared to get some bottled water, and didn't return for nearly 12 hours.

She said that when he returned shortly after 3 a.m., he joked that he had "gone to Japan after stopping by China."

http://tinyurl.com/7yp4z
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xx Juror's illness delays trial in Runnion slaying
« Reply #25 on: Mar 31st, 2005, 06:59am »

SANTA ANA – The trial of a Lake Elsinore man accused of killing 5-year-old Samantha Runnion was postponed when a juror became ill Wednesday morning and was rushed to a hospital.

A court bailiff called the Santa Ana Fire Department after the juror said he was feeling lightheaded and ill. He was taken to St. Jude Medical Center for examination.

Superior Court Judge William Froeberg told the remaining jurors that the 62-year-old La Habra man was not seriously ill and should be able to return Monday.

Alejandro Avila, 30, could be sentenced to death if he is convicted of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and murdering the Stanton girl in 2002.
http://www.ocregister.com/ocr/2005/03/31/sections/local/local/article_463298.php
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xx State Rests in Calif. Girl's Slaying
« Reply #26 on: Apr 7th, 2005, 04:43am »

The prosecution rested its case Tuesday in the trial of the man accused of kidnapping and killing 5-year-old Samantha Runnion.


A computer expert testified that authorities found child pornography on a computer regularly used by defendant Alejandro Avila at his mother's apartment.


Prosecutors have also presented DNA evidence, cell phone records and witness testimony over two weeks of testimony.


The defense was scheduled to begin presenting witnesses on Monday. Defense attorneys have suggested that DNA evidence may have been planted in Avila's car.


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.


Avila, a 30-year-old factory worker, was arrested three days after her disappearance. He is charged with kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing Samantha and faces the death penalty if convicted.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2005/04/05/national/a201634D54.DTL

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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #27 on: Apr 7th, 2005, 08:47am »

Nancy Grace did a segment on Samantha last night. I fell asleep on the couch before it began. Did anybody watch it?
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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #28 on: Apr 8th, 2005, 06:47am »

DNA places victim in Avila’s Car; Avila’s mother and juror fall ill during second week of trial

Diane O’Malley


The prosecution’s case against former Lake Elsinore resident Alejandro Avila continued on Monday, March 28, with forensic scientist Edward Buse of the Orange County Sheriff’s lab testifying that DNA evidence found in Avila’s Ford Thunderbird had a one in one trillion chance of belonging to anyone other than Samantha Runnion. The evidence was found on the console between the front seats and the passenger door handles. In his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney David Brent suggested to the jury that Samantha’s DNA could have been her tears. Avila is on trial and accused of the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of the 5-year-old Stanton girl taken on July 15, 2002. Buse also testified that the DNA evidence found under Samantha’s fingernail had a one in 600 million chance of belonging to anyone other than Avila. Jurors heard from the defendant’s mother, Adelina Avila, and two of his sisters. In the middle of her testimony, Adelina Avila complained she was suffering from a seizure. She said she had suffered a stroke in 2003 and had forgotten to take her medicine. She had been testifying that her son had promised to barbecue a chicken dinner for her but instead decided to drive around on the day of Samantha’s kidnapping. Paramedics were called and examined her, but she left on her own strength after requiring an hour to recover. One of the defendant’s sisters, Elvira Avila, also testified about that day’s events. She said she sent her brother out on an errand to get water that afternoon and when she called him on his cell phone two hours later he told her he felt like going for a drive. Another sister, Adelita Avila, said that when unsolicited pornographic material kept popping up on the family computer only she and Alejandro had access to she took it in for repairs. Buse and the Orange County Sheriff’s DNA procedures were put under scrutiny all day Tuesday by Avila’s defense attorneys, Assistant Public Defenders Phil Zalewski and Denise Gragg. The defense attorneys have cast doubt on the preservation and reliability of the evidence collected in warm temperatures, including the DNA material found in Avila’s car. The trial was delayed until Monday to accommodate a 62-year-old juror who took ill on Wednesday morning and was rushed to the hospital for lightheadedness. His illness was determined not to be serious and he is expected to be back in court next week.
http://www.temeculavalleynews.com/story.asp?story_ID=1822
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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #29 on: Apr 9th, 2005, 6:27pm »

Samantha Runnion is such a beautiful little girl! How tragic that this piece of dirt had to end her life! I hope he gets the death penalty and I hope he goes to eternal hell! I will be following his case closely...I sure hope this monster gets what he deserves! To Samantha..You are with Jesus now, honey, and we all love you! We will never forget you! Love, Desilita
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