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Trial in Torture-Slaying of Pizza Deliveryman to Begin

April 16, 1987|STEPHANIE O'NEILL | Times Staff Writer

The murder trial of a South Carolina man accused in the torture-slaying of a Glendale pizza deliveryman is expected to begin next week, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Terry A. Green, prosecutor in the case.

Selection of the Pasadena Superior Court jury that will hear the trial of Mitchell Carleton Sims, 26, will be completed today or Friday, with opening statements on Monday, Green predicted.

Sims is charged with the Dec. 9, 1985, robbery and motel-room killing of Domino's Pizza deliveryman John Steven Harrigan. Harrigan's bound body was found submerged in a bathtub at the Regalodge Motel in Glendale. A washcloth was stuffed in his mouth and a pillowcase tied over his head. If convicted, Sims faces the death penalty.

Victims Tied to Racks

Sims also faces two counts of attempted murder in a robbery later that night of Harrigan's co-workers at the Brand Boulevard pizza parlor. The two victims were discovered by police tied to metal racks inside a darkened food locker in such a manner that they had to stand on their tiptoes to avoid strangulation.

Testimony should last about six weeks, the prosecutor said.

Sims was arrested Dec. 25, 1985, along with his companion, 21-year-old Ruby Carolyn Padgett, also of South Carolina.

Padgett was convicted in February of first-degree murder for her role in the Glendale killing. She faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole because the murder was committed during a robbery. She is scheduled to be sentenced May 29.

Green said he is seeking the death penalty against Sims because of the suspect's criminal record and because of evidence linking him to the shooting deaths of two Domino's employees in Hanahan, S.C., a suburb of Charleston, six days before Harrigan's murder.

Extradition Expected

One of the victims in that attack identified Sims, a former employee at the Hanahan pizzeria, as the assailant. Sims is charged with those murders and will be extradited to South Carolina when this trial ends. South Carolina authorities are also seeking the death penalty, Green said.

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