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Deliberations resume in temple killings retrial

PHOENIX — Jurors resumed deliberations Thursday in the retrial of a man
charged with killing nine people, including six monks, at a suburban Phoenix
Buddhist temple a day after the panel hinted they were at an impasse and the
judge considered a mistrial.

Johnathan A. Doody, now 39, was 17 when he was charged with participating in
the August 1991 slayings at the Wat Promkunaram temple.

He was found guilty in 1993 and sentenced to 281 years in prison, but an
appeals court threw out his conviction in 2011 after finding that investigators
improperly obtained his confession.

Doody’s retrial began Aug. 12. Jurors deliberated for less than a week before
one of them said it was too emotional for her to continue. Deliberations were
halted, and she was replaced with an alternate juror. The judge then instructed
the panel to begin anew Oct. 3.

The fresh jury deliberated for three days before stalling again after the
foreman and other jurors told the judge one female member of the panel was
refusing to participate in talks.

That juror told Judge Joseph Kreamer on Wednesday that she felt badgered by the
others and that some had called her “stupid.”

After considering a mistrial or replacing the juror with yet another alternate,
Kreamer instead ordered the panel to resume deliberations Thursday morning in an
attempt to reach a verdict.

Another man, Allesandro “Alex” Garcia, pleaded guilty in the killings and was
sentenced to life in prison in exchange for his testimony against Doody and a
promise that prosecutors wouldn’t seek the death penalty.

Garcia said the crime was Doody’s idea and that the two wanted to steal gold
and cash from the monks. Authorities said the robbers ransacked the temple’s
living quarters and made away with about $2,600 and other valuables.

Each victim was shot in the back of the head.

During the retrial, Doody’s defense lawyer urged jurors to discount Garcia’s
testimony, saying he lied to minimize his involvement in the crimes.

Prosecutors told the panel that the evidence showed both Doody and Garcia were
responsible for the killings.

Doody’s brother and mother were members of the temple. He has maintained his

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Doody’s conviction and ruled
his confession inadmissible partly because he wasn’t properly read his rights.

In the confession, Doody said he went to the temple during the robbery but
claimed he was outside when the shootings occurred.

The appeals court’s decision meant prosecutors couldn’t use Doody’s confession
at his retrial. They instead relied largely on Garcia’s testimony.

Garcia said Doody was determined to leave no witnesses and shot each victim.
Items taken from the temple were found at Garcia’s house, where Doody was
staying at the time.

The judge at Doody’s first trial spared him the death penalty, noting it
could not be determined beyond a doubt whether Doody was the triggerman.

Prosecutors could not seek the death penalty in Doody’s retrial because of a
2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision that prohibits authorities from pursuing the
ultimate punishment against defendants who were under 18 years old when the
crime occurred.


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