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New Evidence Delays 'Pizza Murder' Trial

April 23, 1987|STEPHANIE O'NEILL | Times Staff Writer

Citing newly discovered evidence, a Pasadena Superior Court judge ordered opening arguments in the trial of Mitchell Carleton Sims, accused of robbing and killing a Glendale pizza deliveryman, delayed until Monday.

"There have been new developments in this case that require a continuance," Judge Jack B. Tso told members of a newly selected jury moments after they took their courtroom seats Wednesday morning.

On a request from the judge, Deputy Dist. Atty. Terry A. Green refused to say what evidence was introduced and by whom. But he described it as important.

John Steven Harrigan, 21, was murdered Dec. 9, 1985, after delivering a pizza to the Regalodge Motel in Glendale, where Sims was staying. His bound and gagged body was discovered submerged in a motel-room bathtub. A washcloth had been stuffed in his mouth and a pillowcase tied over his head.

Sims, 26, a South Carolina native, also faces two counts of robbery and two counts of attempted murder in connection with an attack on two of Harrigan's co-workers later that night at the Domino's Pizza on Brand Boulevard. The victims were discovered tied up inside a frozen food locker in such a manner that they had to stand on their toes to avoid strangulation.

Sims' companion, Ruby Carolyn Padgett, 21, also of South Carolina, was convicted in February of first-degree murder in the incident. Padgett faces 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 is seeking the death penalty against Sims because of evidence allegedly linking him to the murders of two Domino's employees in South Carolina less than a week before Harrigan's death. South Carolina authorities have charged Sims with those murders and are also seeking the death penalty against him. Sims is scheduled to be extradited to South Carolina after the trial here.

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