Buono found innocent of second hillside killing


LOS ANGELES -- Angelo Buono Jr., already convicted of one of 10 hillside sex slayings that terrorized Southern California six years ago, was found innocent of a second murder charge based on what prosecutors acknowledged was the 'weakest evidence.'

The sequestered jury entered its 13th day of deliberations today to ponder Buono's suspected involvement in the killings of eight other hillside strangler victims.


'I was hoping for 10 convictions but I'm not surprised,' prosecutor Roger Boren said Thursday after the innocent verdict was returned. 'I think the jury is working very diligently right now.'

Buono, 50, an upholsterer from Glendale, Calif., could face death in the gas chamber or spend life in prison if he is convicted in another murder.

He was found innocent Thursday of murdering Yolanda Washington, 20, a prostitute picked up in Hollywood Oct. 17, 1977.

Her body was found the next day on a hillside near the Golden State Freeway, and she became the first of the so-called hillside strangler victims.

Miss Washington's family said they were not bitter about the verdict.

'We don't feel we could be hurt by any decision the world can make,' said her stepfather, Jimmy Campbell, a Baptist gospel preacher.


Her mother, Catherine Campbell, said, 'He will get whatever sentence he deserves eventually. We all have to reach a Judgment Day, and you don't get away with nothing.'

Buono was convicted Monday of the first-degree murder of Lauren Wagner, an 18-year-old student abducted near her parents' home in November 1977.

The trial, which began Nov. 16, 1981, is the longest criminal proceeding in U.S. history.

Buono was charged in the slayings after his cousin, Kenneth Bianchi, implicated him. Bianchi pleaded guilty to five killings and agreed to testify to avoid the death penalty.

Bianchi said he and Buono, posing as police officers, took Miss Washington to the Hollywood Hills and after having intercourse with her, Bianchi testified he strangled her at Buono's direction. Her nude body was found the next morning in bushes near Forest Lawn cemetery.

Boren said the case against Miss Washington involved the 'weakest evidence.'

Defense attorney Gerald Chaleff said, 'There was no evidence on the count other than Mr. Bianchi, and they (the jury) obviously didn't believe Mr. Bianchi.'

The victims, who ranged in age from 12 to 28, were found dumped on hillsides throughout the city. Most had been raped, tortured and strangled before their bodies were discarded.


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