PHOENIX — The third trial of a man charged in the 1991 killings of nine
people, including six monks, at a suburban Phoenix Buddhist temple is set to
resume Monday after a holiday break.
Johnathan A. Doody was 17 when he was accused of participating in the 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 ruling that investigators
improperly obtained his confession. His second trial ended in a mistrial in
October after jurors failed to reach a verdict.
Doody’s third trial began Dec. 4. He has maintained his innocence.
Allesandro “Alex” Garcia pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced to life
in prison in exchange for his testimony and a promise that prosecutors wouldn’t
seek the death penalty.
During the retrials, Garcia described for jurors the events leading up to the
killings, saying the crime was Doody’s idea, aimed at stealing cash and
valuables from the monks.
Garcia said that after the valuables were gathered up, he tried to convince
Doody not to kill the victims but Doody was determined to leave behind no
witnesses. He said Doody opened fire first.
Doody’s brother and mother were members of the temple, but neither were there
the night of the shootings.
Authorities said Garcia and Doody made away with about $2,600 and other
Police eventually found the stolen items at Garcia’s house, where Doody was
staying at the time.
Defense attorneys said Garcia is lying and only implicated Doody to avoid a
death sentence. Prosecutors said both men are equally culpable in the crime.
In his confession, Doody said he went to the temple with Garcia but claimed he
was outside when the shootings occurred. The appeals court’s decision meant
prosecutors couldn’t use Doody’s confession at his retrials. They are instead
relying largely on Garcia’s testimony.
Doody was spared the death penalty in his first trial.
Prosecutors couldn’t seek the death penalty in Doody’s second trial because of
a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision that prohibits authorities from pursuing that
punishment against defendants who were under 18 years old when the crime