NEW YORK (AP) – A California serial killer who left a trail of brutalized women’s bodies in his wake was sentenced Monday in New York to an additional 25 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to murdering two young women here in the 1970s.
Rodney Alcala said last month he wanted to plead guilty to the two New York murder counts so he could get back to California, where he was sentenced to death for convictions on five other killings, to pursue an appeal there. He had complained that his jailers in New York wouldn’t give him access to a laptop computer and legal records.
Family and friends of Cornelia Crilley and Ellen Hover filled the courtroom in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, having waited decades since the losses of their loved ones for this day.
Crilley, 23, was found strangled with a stocking in her Manhattan apartment in 1971. Hover, also 23, was living in Manhattan when she vanished in 1977. Her remains were found the next year in the woods on a suburban estate.
The emotions in the courtroom were running high, and not even the judge was immune.
“This kind of case is something I’ve never experienced _ hope to never again,” Judge Bonnie Whittner said, choking back tears as she sentenced Alcala. When she finished pronouncing the sentence, she put her head in her hand.
Alcala was indicted in 2011 in the killings of Crilley and Hover in New York, partly on evidence that emerged during a California murder trial.
In a victim-impact statement, Crilley’s sister talked about how much she was missed. Kaitie Stigell thanked police and prosecutors for treating Crilley like she mattered, because “she matters to us and she always will.”
She described her sister as a lovely person with a great smile.
“I want you to know you broke my parents’ heart,” she told the defendant.
Stigell was asked later about the judge’s emotional reaction. “It was overwhelming and it meant a lot to me,” she said. “It’s just a testament of how everybody involved in this has been so good.”
A prosecutor read a statement from Hover’s sisters in which they wrote about her estranged brother’s drug abuse and suicide, and their mother’s struggles with alcohol and dementia.
“Her senseless murder irreparably damaged our family,” Charlotte Rosenberg and Victoria Rudolph wrote.
Alcala has spent the last three decades tangling with California authorities in a series of trials and overturned convictions. He eventually was found guilty in 2010 of killing four women and a 12-year-old girl in Southern California in the 1970s.
He represented himself at trial, offering a defense that involved showing a clip of his 1978 appearance on “The Dating Game” and playing Arlo Guthrie’s classic 1967 song “Alice’s Restaurant.”
Alcala had been eyed in Hover’s death for decades and in Crilley’s killing for at least several years. A detective went to talk to Alcala again in 2005. According to court papers, on learning that the investigator was from New York, Alcala asked, “What took you so long?”
Associated Press Writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food