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xx Parents Turn Grief to Action
« Reply #45 on: May 6th, 2005, 07:08am »

For Erin Runnion and others whose children have been murdered, altruism can fill a void and reconnect them to life, an expert says.


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PARENTS

ORANGE COUNTY

MURDERS

CHILDREN

MURDERS CHILDREN ORANGE COUNTY ORGANIZATIONS PAREN

ORGANIZATIONS











By Jean O. Pasco, Times Staff Writer


In the three years since her 5-year-old daughter was abducted, raped and murdered, Erin Runnion has become a public face for a parent's private anguish.

After Samantha's body was found and the killer tracked down, Runnion launched a nonprofit foundation to crusade nationally for child safety. The group organized neighborhood patrols where red-vested volunteers watched for trouble as children played outside, or walked them to and from school.
Runnion appeared twice on CNN's "Larry King Live," where King referred to Samantha as "America's Little Girl." People magazine last year featured Runnion and one of the 35 neighborhood patrols organized through her the Joyful Child Foundation under the headline "Crusaders."

The loss of her daughter moved her to do something good for others, she told the magazine. "It was the only way to give her death purpose," said Runnion, who has declined recent requests for interviews until a jury decides whether the man convicted of Samantha's murder — Alejandro Avila — should either get the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

In many ways, Runnion is traveling a road blazed long ago by other parents of murdered children who found both solace and purpose in activism. In some cases, the names of the murdered youngsters — Polly Klaas and Megan Kanka, for instance — have become synonymous with efforts to make the world a safer place.

"We don't stop being parents," said Dr. Henya Shanun-Klein, a Houston psychologist who studies parental bereavement. "We want to continually remind the world that our child existed and that she made a difference in the world."

Collene Campbell, a former mayor of San Juan Capistrano, was transformed by tragedy 23 years ago when her adult son, Scott, was murdered. Six years later, her brother, racing promoter Mickey Thompson, and his wife, Trudy, were gunned down by two hit men outside their home in Bradbury.

Campbell sat through three trials before juries convicted two men of killing her son — based largely on evidence that she and her husband, Gary, had collected. The man accused of planning the execution-style slaying of her brother and sister-in-law was arrested in 2001 and faces trial in Los Angeles County.

Frustrated by the lengthy court proceedings, Campbell started a group called MOVE — Memories of Victims Everywhere — and pressed state lawmakers and Congress for more aggressive criminal investigations and prosecutions. In 1990, she co-chaired the campaign for Proposition 115, the successful crime-victims' initiative. She has testified three times before the U.S. Senate urging a federal counterpart.

"It's what we do to honor Mickey and Trudy and Scotty," she said this week before flying to Sacramento to speak to a national conclave of district attorney investigators.

In 1980, Candy Lightner founded what is now called Mothers Against Drunk Driving after her 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunk driver with a long list of prior arrests. The group, and the national movement against drunk driving that it triggered, was her way of "keeping Cari alive," Lightner has said in interviews.

Bereaved father John Walsh founded the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Adam Walsh Foundation after his young son was abducted from a Florida store in 1981 and later found slain. In 1988, Walsh became host of Fox TV's "America's Most Wanted," whose first featured fugitive was captured three days later. Walsh said his work was a way to honor his son's memory and create a legacy for his lost boy.

Two foundations to help protect children were launched in 1993 after 12-year-old Polly Klaas was found slain. She had been snatched from a slumber party in Petaluma. By then, Mike Reynolds of Fresno had begun lobbying for what in 1994 became California's "three strikes" law for repeat offenders, provoked by the murder of his 18-year-old daughter, Kimber, by a paroled felon.

How a parent reacts to the tragedy of a murdered child is deeply personal, said Shanun-Klein, who decided to devote her career to the study of parental bereavement after her 11-year-old daughter, Gili Klein, was killed by a reckless driver in 1990.

Whether a parent chooses to take up the cause of child safety or of toughening criminal laws or shuns the spotlight, they are grieving in a way that is characteristic to them. For those who become activists, "it can be an altruistic drive," Shanun-Klein said. " 'My personal grief is transcended. I had a horrific experience. It darkened my world, literally, so I want to bring light into it.' "

To become involved as Runnion and Campbell and other parents have is their way of taking outward steps to reconnect with life, to show their love for their child and to continually bond with their child, she said — a process that will last a lifetime.

Samantha's death motivated California's then-Gov. Gray Davis to make statewide the Amber Alert system, which had been used in Orange County and 11 other counties to alert freeway drivers and others to child abductions. The system was created in Texas in 1996 after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was kidnapped, while riding her bike in Arlington, and murdered.

Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona sits on a national committee considering expansion of the Amber Alert system nationwide. He called Samantha's abduction — from outside her three-story condominium in Stanton, a working-class town in northern Orange County — a "wake-up call for America."

Decades of toiling by the Campbells has led to changes in state laws in California and around the country. Last year, President Bush signed the Scott Campbell, Stephanie Roper, Wendy Preston, Louarna Gillis and Nila Lynn Crime Victims' Rights Act.

Pushed by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the bill created eight rights for crime victims within the federal justice system, including being allowed to observe the court trial of the accused, to be heard at sentencing, to confer with the attorney for the government in the case and to be notified of any crime committed by the accused, or the release or escape of the accused.

Campbell said she sympathized with Runnion as soon as she learned of Samantha's disappearance.

"I died for her," said Campbell, summing up her feeling after hearing that Runnion's daughter had been murdered. "She's been doing a great job during a difficult time."

Runnion was in Orange County Superior Court on Wednesday to testify during the penalty phase of Avila's murder trial. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

"When your child has been murdered, you don't want someone to come in and hold your hand in court and sit with you," Campbell said. "You want to get the bastard who killed your child."

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Turning grief to activism

Parents of some murdered children have become advocates for child safety, finding missing children or strengthening state and federal laws on the rights of crime victims and their families. Below are some of the organizations created by surviving parents:

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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #46 on: May 11th, 2005, 07:11am »

Jury to weigh death or life in prison for slaying of Orange County girl

SANTA ANA, Calif. - Jurors who have spent the past week hearing about the painful childhood of the man they convicted of kidnapping and killing 5-year-old Samantha Runnion are set to begin weighing whether he should receive the death penalty for his crimes.

The prosecution and defense were scheduled to make closing arguments Wednesday in the penalty phase of the trial of Alejandro Avila, the factory worker convicted of killing Samantha in 2001 in a crime that provoked a massive outpouring of outrage and grief.

The jury can recommend the death penalty or life in prison without parole for Avila, 30, who was convicted on April 28 of kidnapping, two counts of sexual assault and murder after jurors deliberated for nearly nine hours.

Defense witnesses have testified that Avila, 30, grew up in a chaotic household and was severely beaten and ridiculed by an alcoholic father and sexually assaulted by an uncle.

Social service workers removed the six Avila children from the household for a period in 1989 and in the early 1990s Avila saw his father, Rafael, shoot and kill a neighbor, one of the defendant's sisters said. The father was sentenced to prison for manslaughter and deported back to his native Mexico after his release from prison.

At one point, Avila bowed his head and cried as witnesses recalled his childhood.

The prosecution called only two witnesses, Samantha's mother, Erin, and the child's grandmother, Virginia, who described their love for the 5-year-old and their agony over her death.

Samantha was abducted, kicking and screaming, from outside her home in Stanton on July 15, 2002. Her nude body was found the following day in mountains some 50 miles away, left on the ground as if it had been posed.

So many were moved by the young girl's murder that more than 4,000 people attended her funeral. After her death, then-Gov. Gray Davis ordered a statewide expansion of child abduction alerts posted on electronic billboards along freeways.
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xx Samantha Runnion's Killer to Die, Jury Says
« Reply #47 on: May 17th, 2005, 05:03am »

By Claire Luna and Andrew Wang, Times Staff Writers




An Orange County jury decided Monday that Alejandro Avila should be executed for kidnapping, sexually assaulting and murdering Samantha Runnion, the 5-year-old Stanton girl who disappeared in 2002 during a rash of high-profile child abductions.

As the verdict was read, Samantha's mother, Erin, sobbed quietly, rocking in her front-row seat as she clutched a tissue.


Avila gazed downward and displayed no reaction. As Assistant Public Defender Denise Gragg huddled next to him, her eyes filled with tears.

At a news conference later, Runnion discussed the difficulty of sitting through daily testimony, imagining her daughter's pain in the hours after her abduction.

"It's hard to believe it's over," she said. Although she said she was happy that this pedophile wouldn't be able to hurt a child again, her happiness was bittersweet. "The fact of the matter is, one's down, but my baby's still gone."

The crime attracted national attention during a wave of child abductions that year, including the high-profile kidnapping and slaying of Danielle van Dam, a 7-year-old San Diego girl.

After the arrest of Avila, 30, a Lake Elsinore factory worker, TV interviewer Larry King hailed Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona as "America's sheriff" and called Samantha "America's little girl." President Bush publicly praised Carona for arresting Samantha's killer.

Avila was convicted two weeks ago. Jurors took less than six hours to decide on a death sentence, announcing that they had reached a verdict about half an hour into the second day of deliberations. Looking at the photographs of Samantha's bludgeoned body was the most difficult part of deliberations for many, said foreman Terry Dancey.

"They were graphic, and they certainly were heart-wrenching," said Dancey, 67, a Newport Beach man who owns a waterproofing company. "If anyone in Orange County had ever deserved the death penalty, then this guy deserved it."

Avila will be sentenced July 22, exactly three years after he was charged with the crimes and four days before what would have been Samantha's ninth birthday.

Avila was convicted after a monthlong trial that centered on DNA evidence tying him to the child he snatched as she played outside her family's condominium. His DNA was found under her fingernails, indicating she fought to get away, and DNA consistent with her tears was detected inside his car.

"It spoke pretty loud and clear to us," Dancey said. "The entire jury thought [the defense] had nothing to work with…. They really tried hard, they were valiant, but it was a pretty open-and-shut case."

Defense attorneys declined to comment.

At the news conference, photos of Samantha and Avila flanked prosecutors, Samantha's family and Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas. But before the questions started, Rackauckas pulled down Avila's photo and carried it out of the cameras' view.

"During my 30-year career in this business, I haven't seen a case more horrific or more violent wrought on a little girl," Rackauckas said. "Avila decided that fulfilling his sick, selfish perversion was worth more than [her life]."

According to the foreman, jurors voted four times Thursday, their first day of deliberations. By the afternoon, 10 of the 12 jurors were convinced Avila deserved to die. No deliberations were held Friday, and the other two jurors announced Monday that they had changed their minds after thinking about their decision over the weekend.

Three of the alternate jurors, who chose to wait at the courthouse instead of going home while their colleagues deliberated, spoke to reporters before the news conference.

"There were a lot of sleepless nights," said Dave, 38, a Lake Forest high school teacher and football coach who declined to give his last name. "We had to see things nobody should have to see," he said, referring to the crime scene photos.

During five days of testimony in the penalty phase, defense attorneys tried to persuade jurors to show Avila mercy because of the brutality they said he experienced as a child, when they alleged that his relatives sexually assaulted and beat him.

"No kid should be brought up like that," said Lisbeth Heywood, 40, an alternate juror from Rancho Santa Margarita. Still, the federal contractor said, that was not enough to convince her that Avila's life should be spared

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/state/la-me-avila17may17,1,4753245.story?coll=la-news-state
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xx Slain Girl's Story Advances a Cause
« Reply #48 on: May 18th, 2005, 06:51am »

Before dawn broke Tuesday, Erin Runnion traded her squeaky brown seat in the front row of a Santa Ana courtroom for a spot in the glare of television lights.

After running a gantlet of media interviews in the hours after a jury decided Monday that her daughter's killer be put to death, Runnion rested for two hours. Then she donned another dark suit in preparation for a full day on the national talk show circuit, focusing on 5-year-old Samantha's short but inspired life.
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"Good Morning America" recorded her for five minutes at 3:40 a.m. Half an hour and a steaming cup of coffee later, she taped a segment with Katie Couric from the "Today" show. A seven-minute break preceded another interview, this one with MSNBC.

She has mourned her daughter for three years and will for the rest of her life, she said. But her job Tuesday was to use her time in the limelight to prevent other children from meeting Samantha's fate. She has no room for anger at her daughter's killer, just hope that his name will fade from the public's memory while her daughter's name lives on as a reminder to parents to be cautious.

"There is no right or wrong way to handle this situation," she said between television interviews. "But not every crime gets the attention that Samantha's has. I feel a responsibility not only to Samantha, but to all the victims we never hear about."

It's the same schedule she faced in the days after the 2002 arrest of Alejandro Avila, a factory worker who lived in Lake Elsinore. Avila was convicted two weeks ago of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and murdering Samantha and is set to be formally sentenced July 22, a few days before the girl would have turned 9.

Throughout the morning, the 30-year-old remained composed. She chatted with the crews between tapings about the scarcity of coffee available before sunrise, cellphone gadgets and her packed schedule.

"It goes all day today. Hopefully we just keep going," said Runnion, sitting in a makeshift studio in a hallway at the Orange County Sheriff's Department in Santa Ana, across the street from the courthouse. She cleared her scratchy throat and counted to five for a mike check. One minute later, an interviewer 3,000 miles away started piping questions into her right ear.

Runnion talked in easy sound bites about the Joyful Child Foundation she started after her daughter's abduction, and its child safety program, Samantha's Pride. More than 80 such groups nationwide have been formed.

Her message was simple: Adults need to better monitor children so that pedophiles and kidnappers won't risk getting caught. But vigilance doesn't mean locking children inside their homes, she said.

"I want to give our children freedom to be children, but in a safe way," she told one interviewer. The message is straightforward. For Erin Runnion, the grief process is not.

"The pain becomes a part of who you are," she said. "It doesn't ever go away."

She mourns the child she has lost. She will not be able to see Samantha grow older, turn 20 or 40 or have children. Worse, during the pretrial hearings and the six-week trial itself, has been the misery of listening to the details of her daughter's death.

She said she heard things in court she had not heard before. There was the woman who testified that she heard the screaming of a little girl as she and her boyfriend drove by the Cleveland National Forest the night Samantha was kidnapped. Later that night, a witness said, the killer spent the evening at a Comfort Inn in Temecula.

Even more agonizing was listening to the prosecution's timeline about what Avila did after he snatched Samantha as she played near her family's Stanton condominium. As witnesses testified about when Samantha probably died and the sexual assault she suffered, the mother said, her imagination ran wild.

When they talked about DNA extracted from Samantha's fingernail scrapings, Runnion could envision her daughter clawing at Avila. During testimony of DNA consistent with the child's tears that was found inside Avila's car, Runnion visualized her daughter sobbing as she prayed for someone to rescue her.

"I'll never know whether she suffered for three hours or 10," she said. It was a "huge relief" to learn that the child could have been killed as early as 8 p.m., less than two hours after she was abducted.

"That was nice," she said, laughing ruefully at using such a word to describe any aspect of the trial.

She has a steno pad packed with notes from the testimony, jotted down in an attempt to keep the trial "academic" rather than gruesome. Then each night, she said, she would put to sleep her three other children — two stepchildren from her husband, Ken Donnelly, and the third an 18-month-old girl they have together — then let her feelings wash over her.

"Samantha deserves to be grieved," she said. "It's all worth grieving for." The end of the trial doesn't change that
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/state/la-me-erin18may18,1,6224907.story?coll=la-news-state
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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #49 on: May 22nd, 2005, 08:32am »

This thoughtful article discusses the feelings of jury members during this heartbreaking trial. May this verdict be a deterring message to any potential evildoer at large capable of such unmentionable depravity.
___________________________________
http://www.ocregister.com/ocr/2005/05/17/sections/news/news/article_522612.php
Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Death was easy verdict

Avila jurors cite Samantha's 'horrible' death in a decision that came after two briefly held out.

By GWENDOLYN DRISCOLL, LARRY WELBORN and RACHANEE SRISAVASDI
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER


SANTA ANA - The hardest thing about the Samantha Runnion murder trial for jury foreman Terry Dancey was not just viewing photographs of a 5-year-old girl's molested and beaten corpse.

It was also having to face Samantha's mother, Erin Runnion, in the minutes before the verdict was read without betraying a twinge of sympathy.

"She must have thought we were pretty heartless because we weren't allowed to show any emotion," said Dancey, 67, a retired painting contractor from Newport Coast.

"She was a trouper," Dancey said. "I gave her a little wink this morning because I wanted her to know how much we were feeling for her."

The eight-man, four-woman jury deliberated for six hours over two days before recommending that Alejandro Avila, 30, be put to death for Samantha Runnion's kidnapping, sexual assault and murder rather than be sentenced to life in prison.

Jurors stared at Avila as court clerk Jody Grinstead said the word "death." Avila, a former factory worker, held his head down, showing no other reaction.

Erin Runnion squeezed her husband's hand in the front row of the 10th-floor courtroom. Minutes later, she held back tears as she hugged family members and friends.

"It's hard to believe it's over," she said.

For most jurors, there was never any doubt.

"If there was ever a crime in the ... history of Orange County (that deserved the death penalty), this one begged for it," Dancey said. "It was a heinous, heinous crime."

Another juror, Linda Sullivan, 43, said the death sentence was just because, "There's a lot of pedophiles out there, but they don't kill kids and in this horrible way. Those three hours of that little girl's life were incredibly horrible."

Jurors said the physical and forensic evidence in the case - from controversial DNA to a footprint of Avila's shoe found near Samantha's dumped body on Killeen Truck Trail off Ortega Highway - sealed the Lake Elsinore man's fate.

Defense claims that samples of Samantha's DNA found in Avila's car were "planted" did not add up, Dancey said.

"Who would risk their entire career to (plant) something like this?"he said.

Dancey said that from the first ballots taken after deliberations began Thursday, there were only two votes for life in prison.

"Some people, no matter what, couldn't bring their heart around to killing someone.

"So we let them open their hearts up and talk. They needed the weekend to get their thoughts together. By (Monday) ... it seemed to do the trick," Dancey said.

A third juror, Jerry Wakefield, 61, said extra time helped the holdouts wrestle with the sentence's gravity.

"It's one thing to have an opinion (about the death penalty) that you express at work, but to actually have an opinion ... that may be carried out? That's very big," Wakefield, a land surveyor, said.

Several jurors said the trial changed them.

"It was really hard to go through," said Sullivan. "I have an 11-year-old daughter, and I look at her and all little kids in a different way now. If I even see a kid barely out of sight of their parents, I'm just panicking for them."

Both Dancey and Sullivan said they hoped the verdict would send a message to pedophiles.

"If they're going to play games they better not come to Orange County because we're going to send them to the death chair," Dancey said.

Jim Coker, the father of one of two Riverside County girls who accused Avila of molesting them in Lake Elsinore in 1998, watched the verdict in silence from the fourth row. Avila was acquitted by a Riverside County jury of those molestations in 2001.

Coker said he did not feel relief or closure.

"When they show me a picture of his dead body, then it will be over for me," he said.

Lisabeth Heywood, an alternate juror from Rancho Santa Margarita, said she became irritated during the trial when Avila looked up at the teenage girls who had accused him of molestation before.

"I watched him throughout the trial, and he never looked up at anybody, even his family when they testified, except those girls," said Heywood, 40. "It made me angry."

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas took down a poster-sized photo of Avila before speaking to reporters. Nearby sat a poster of three photos of Samantha. One showed the curly-haired girl lying in bed, solemnly holding her cat and water bottle.

"He will never, ever, again, hurt another child," he said, tears in his eyes.

The search for Samantha, and the subsequent manhunt for her killer, captivated a national following. Samantha became "America's Little Girl," a description coined by Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona.

She was abducted on July 15, 2002, when Avila left his apartment in Lake Elsinore and drove to the Stanton condominium complex where one of the young girls he was accused of molesting in 1999 had moved.

There, he lured Samantha, who was days away from her sixth birthday, into his car by asking her: "Have you seen my puppy?"

As Samantha stepped toward him, he grabbed her and put her in his car. She was last seen struggling to get out, and yelling for help.

Her body was found the next day off Ortega Highway in Riverside County.

More than 2,000 tips came in to the Orange County Sheriff's Department, which put Avila under surveillance after someone said he resembled an artist's drawing of the kidnapper.

The penalty phase of the trial lasted five days.

Assistant Public Defender Denise Gragg begged jurors to spare Avila's life, focusing on his childhood in a dysfunctional "family of molesters." Avila's relatives said Avila was beaten as a child. One aunt said she walked in after Avila appeared to have been molested.

Gragg and Deputy Public Defender Phil Zalewski declined to talk with reporters.

The jury's recommendation was the same as others in high-profile child-abduction slayings, including those of Megan Kanka, Polly Klaas and Danielle Van Dam, whose killers were sentenced to death.
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xx Avila Gets Death Penalty in Runnion Murder
« Reply #50 on: Jul 22nd, 2005, 11:09pm »

By Claire Luna, Times Staff Writer

Alejandro Avila was sentenced to death Friday for the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion, moments after her mother unleashed three years of pent-up fury.

"You don't deserve a place in my family's history," Runnion said, berating Avila through her tears. "I want you to disappear into the abyss of a lifetime in prison where no one will remember you, no one will pray for you and no one will care when you die."

Orange County Superior Court Judge William R. Froeberg told the courtroom that with his crimes, Avila, 30, "has forfeited his right to live."

Friday's sentencing produced some of the most intense moments in the three-year-old case that prompted a statewide expansion of the Amber alert system and impelled the girl's mother to launch a neighborhood child-watch program.

The jury convicted Avila, a Lake Elsinore factory worker, on April 28 after nine hours of deliberation. Afterward, Erin Runnion said Avila deserved to die. That also was the urging of the jurors, nine of whom attended the sentencing.

But on Friday, Samantha's mother reversed herself and told Avila she wanted him to live and think about what he had done.

"Everything in me wants to hurt you in every possible way," she told Avila, who sat expressionless, his back turned to her. "But when I'm very honest with myself, what I want more than anything is for you to feel remorse."

A woman interrupted Runnion's eight-minute discourse, yelling: "Take him out of protective custody." She was escorted from the packed Santa Ana courtroom by one of the six bailiffs.

Avila will become Orange County's 50th inmate on California's death row. He will be transferred within 10 days to San Quentin State Prison to wait — possibly for decades — for his execution.

Avila will be the 645th person on California's death row. The last man executed was Donald Beardslee in January, after 20 years and 10 months on deatn row.

None of Avila's relatives, some of whom were accused by his attorneys of beating and molesting him during his childhood, attended the half-hour hearing.

"His family has never done anything to him except try to destroy him from the day he was born," said one of Avila's attorneys, Assistant Public Defender Denise Gragg.Testimony from the six-week trial this spring showed that Avila kidnapped Samantha in the early evening of July 15, 2002, after asking the girl and her friend for help in finding a lost Chihuahua as they played outside their families' homes in Stanton. When Samantha approached him and asked how big the puppy was, Avila forced her into his car.

As Samantha clawed and scratched at her attacker during the ordeal, she left DNA consistent with tears in Avila's vehicle and some of his DNA was found under her fingernails. A day after the abduction, a hang-glider found her nude body on a cliff overlooking Lake Elsinore.

"As a final insult to her humanity," Froeberg said, "the defendant posed the victim as if she were some sort of trophy."

After Avila's arrest, TV interviewer Larry King hailed Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona as "America's sheriff" and called Samantha "America's little girl." President Bush praised Carona for arresting Samantha's killer.

After convicting Avila and sentencing him to death, jurors said they based their decisions largely on the DNA evidence. "It was a pretty open-and-shut case," jury foreman Terry Dancey, 67, of Newport Beach said after the verdict was read.

As the courtroom filled for Friday's sentencing, Dancey distributed buttons bearing Samantha's photo to the eight other jurors and alternates in the courtroom. Several jurors, including Dave Peterson, 35, of Brea, brought spouses. One woman brought her teenage daughter.

"I spent two months of my life here, and I wanted to see it end the right way," said Peterson, a UPS driver with three children.

Peterson said he wasn't surprised by Avila's lack of emotion on Friday. Avila had betrayed feelings only once, he said, when his mother had a seizure on the witness stand. Otherwise, Peterson said, "There's no heart, there's no soul there. It's tragic."

Peterson said he and his wife hosted a barbecue with Erin Runnion last weekend so they could plan a Brea chapter of Samantha's Pride, a program launched after her death to monitor neighborhood children.

Runnion said in court that she wrote her statement a week ago, on the third anniversary of Samantha's kidnapping: "The night you took my baby and hurt her and scared her and crushed her until her heart stopped." The crime is incomprehensible, she said.

"I know she looked at you with those amazing, sparkling brown eyes and you still wanted to kill her," Runnion said as Samantha's stepfather, Ken Donnelly, embraced her. "I don't understand it. I never will."

She said she has tried not to let anger and vengeance consume her.

"In choosing to destroy Samantha's life, you chose to waste your life to satisfy a selfish and sick desire," Runnion said. "You are a disgrace to the human race."

Samantha would have turned 9 on Tuesday.

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My group inspired to help others because of Carrie.
See also our missing & murdered person blog
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xx For Samantha on 7-26-05
« Reply #51 on: Jul 26th, 2005, 7:29pm »

For Samantha on her birthday. She's gone now but she's not forgotten.

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Please visit www.FindCarrieCulberson.Com
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See also our missing & murdered person blog
http://findcarrie.blogspot.com
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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #52 on: Jul 26th, 2006, 1:38pm »

Thinking of Samantha on her birthday. Rest peacefully, you are always remembered.

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Please visit www.FindCarrieCulberson.Com
And www.AngelGardenOfHope.Com
My group inspired to help others because of Carrie.
See also our missing & murdered person blog
http://findcarrie.blogspot.com
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xx Re: Samantha Runnion - CA
« Reply #53 on: Jun 3rd, 2011, 04:01am »

A crime under the law. A California woman was arrested Sunday afternoon when she was caught apparently pushing a 30-gallon trash can with dismembered human parts of the body. She was already booked on suspicion of murder, and remains uncooperative, police say. I read this here: California woman arrested with trashcan with body parts, newstype.com . Immoral and unlawful act in which evidence will tell the truth in every crime.
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