LOS ANGELES -- Evidence conclusively proves accused hillside strangler Angelo Buono Jr. is guilty of murdering 10 young women in 1977-78, prosecutors said as closing arguments began in the longest criminal trial in California history.
Buono, 48, an automobile upholsterer from suburban Glendale, is accused of joining his cousin, Kenneth Bianchi, in the kidnap, rape and strangling of 10 young women and girls whose nude bodies were dumped on slopes around Southern California in 1977-78.
'The taking of human life is the reason why we're here,' Deputy Attorney General Michael Nash told jurors Tuesday in what is expected to be a week-long closing argument.
'There were 10 young women, walking around like you and me,' he said. 'Ten young women met their deaths in a cold, calculated manner while the rest of Los Angeles literally cringed in terror.'
The marathon trial began in November 1981 with jury selection. The prosecution introduced 1,198 pieces of evidence and heard testimony from 250 witnesses in its 13-month presentation, which ended last April. The trial has cost millions and filled thousands of pages of transcript.
Superior Court Judge Ronald George said the case probably will not reach jurors until after Labor Day.
Bianchi, Buono's adoptive cousin, pleaded guilty in 1979 to five of the killings and was spared the death penalty in exchange for his testimony. He was later sentenced to seven life prison terms.
Bianchi, who was on the stand six months, was the only witness to say he saw Buono kill any of the victims. He claimed he and Buono roamed the Los Angeles area, masquerading as police officers to lure their victims off the streets.
His testimony varied so much during pre-trial proceedings that the district attorney tried to drop the charges, but George insisted there was enough evidence to try Buono and the state Attorney General's Office took over the trial.
Under state law however, Buono cannot be convicted solely on the testimony of an accomplice.
Evidence given by other witnesses included an account by Catherine Lorre, daughter of the late actor Peter Lorre, that she had been approached by Bonin and Buono posing as police officers in Hollywood. A North Hollywood woman said she saw the pair trying to force a woman into a car.
Carpet and upholstery fibers found on two of the bodies matched those seized from Buono's house and auto upholstery shop, court testimony showed.