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Porn star John Holmes was a narcotics runner who...

By MICHAEL HARRIS

LOS ANGELES -- Porn star John Holmes was a narcotics runner who set up a robbery that led to the revenge deaths of four persons at a home in the Hollywood Hills last summer, prosecutors told a jury Thursday.

In his opening statement at Holmes' murder trial, prosecutor Ron Coen said the Laurel Canyon home where the slayings occurred was 'the center of a drug milieu' and the victims were 'active drug users.'

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Coen said Holmes, 37, was acting as an intermediary between the victims and Adel Nasrallah -- a nightclub owner also known as Eddie Nash - by taking stolen property from the victims to Nasrallah.

He said Nasrallah, who has been linked to the killings but not charged in the case, held the property in escrow for drugs that Holmes delivered to the victims.

Coen said Holmes set the murders in motion when he decided 'that Eddie Nash was ripe for a robbery.' He said the defendant developed a robbery plan and left a door open at Nash's home -- thereby setting up 'the mechanism which would result a few days later in a tragic blood bath.'

During the robbery, Coen said, 'Eddie Nash fell to his knees. He humiliated himself by asking permission to say his prayers,' thinking he was going to be killed.

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The robbers left Nash's house with more than $10,000 cash, jewelry and narcotics and gave Holmes 12 percent for his role in the crime, Coen said.

To avenge the humiliation and robbery, the prosecutor said, Nash directed Holmes to set up the 'ghastly and grisly' murders in Laurel Canyon a few nights later.

Coen described the Hollywood home as 'a horrid scene of blood and death' and said police found Holmes' palm prints 'inches from the bludgeoned head' of one of the victims, Ronald Launius.

Coen said Holmes, who was arrested in Florida in December, 'set things up, let the people in, knowing the occupants would be murdered. He was thus an aider and abettor in the gruesome revenge of Eddie Nash.'

Holmes' attorney, Mitchell Agers, insisted in his opening statement that the jurors had to answer 'not a question of who done it, but a question of why aren't the perpetrators (Nasrallah) here.'

He also insisted that 'Holmes himself is a victim in this case.'

The four murder victims were Launius, William Deverell, Joy Audrey Miller and Barbara Richardson. A fifth woman was severely injured in the attack.

Before the session began, Coen told UPI that a videotape depicting the death scene would be a key piece of evidence at the trial.

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The 45-minute color videotape taken hours after the bodies were discovered, is 'extremely important' to the prosecution's case, he said, because it 'demonstrates murder, premeditation, malice, extent of the wounds, positions of the bodies and the ransacking of the house.'

In federal court, meanwhile, closing arguments opened Thursday in the racketeering and mail fraud trial of Nash and three others accused of running an arson-for-profit ring.

'The stories the defense has told you just don't make sense,' prosecutor Paul Corradini said, 'there was an illegal agreement to conduct an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering.'

The four are accused of torching two restaurants and a home in Las Vegas, Nev., to collect on insurance policies.

Defense arguments were scheduled Friday and jurors were expected to begin deliberations on Monday.

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