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Alleged 'Death List' Made Public as Kraft Trial Opens

September 27, 1988|JERRY HICKS | Times Staff Writer

A handwritten sheet of paper that prosecutors claim is Randy Steven Kraft's "death list" of victims was made public for the first time Monday, revealing 61 entries that prosecutors allege helps connect Kraft to a total of 45 murders of young men.

Included are six consecutive references to "Portland," which prosecutors say refers to six Oregon murders among the 45, followed by the entry "GR 2." Prosecutors claim that Kraft killed two young men together in Grand Rapids, Mich., in early 1983, shortly after

some of the Oregon murders.

The list was made public by Superior Court Judge Donald A. McCartin after opening statements at Kraft's murder trial in Santa Ana.

Kraft, now 43, a Long Beach computer consultant, is accused of more murders than anyone in the history of California. He was arrested May 14, 1983, when two California Highway Patrol officers who stopped him for a traffic violation found a dead Marine in the front seat of his car.

After nearly five years of delays, he has gone on trial on charges of 16 Orange County murders. Prosecutors have accused him of another 29 murders, and if Kraft is convicted, they plan to use most of them against him in seeking a death verdict at a penalty phase of the trial.

But it was Kraft's lawyers who took the offensive during opening statements Monday. Kraft attorney C. Thomas McDonald told jurors that the prosecutor was trying to "inflame you and color your thinking" by repeating for them a litany of the lurid details of the 16 sex-related murders.

Assails Prosecution

"The prosecution in this case is based on speculation, suspicion and rhetoric," McDonald contended.

McDonald claimed that prosecutors will produce no evidence linking Kraft with any of the 16 deaths. He accused Deputy Dist. Atty. Bryan F. Brown of trying to get the jurors to "arrive at a pre-conceived decision before you've even listened to the evidence."

Brown did not mention the list found in Kraft's car in his own opening statement, nor did McDonald.

But defense attorneys have denied it is a "death list" and have called it meaningless.

The list had been sealed by court order for nearly five years. But McCartin said there was no reason to keep it secret once lawyers had outlined the case for jurors. (Only about a dozen or so entries on the list had been made public previously.)

8 New Murders

In other documents made public Monday, prosecutors for the first time linked the list with the names of 43 of the 45 people that they allege Kraft killed between 1971 and 1983. That includes eight new murders, all in Los Angeles County, that have not been revealed before.

The list is actually a series of notations--"Airplane Hill" and "New Year's Eve," for example--that prosecutors say is Kraft's own code for his murders.

The two murders that prosecutors say are not on the list are Eric Church, 20, and Terry Lee Gambrel, 25, the Marine whose body was found in Kraft's car. Church, they say, may be connected to the list, but they simply don't know the connection. They claim that Kraft was arrested before he could put Gambrel on the list.

Besides the 16 murders for which Kraft is being tried, prosecutors had planned to use another 21 other murders against Kraft if he is convicted and the trial reaches a penalty phase. Those 37 murders have been part of the case since 1984. But because prosecutors now claim eight additional murders are connected to the Kraft list, they have not ruled out adding them to their case if the trial reaches a penalty phase.

The eight additional killings occurred from Feb. 6, 1973, to July 29, 1982, less than a year before Kraft's arrest on the San Diego Freeway in South Orange County, when the body of Gambrel, who was based at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, was found in Kraft's car.

The last of the eight were two teen-age boys whose bodies were found in Echo Park next to the Hollywood Freeway, according to Orange County prosecutors. One of the boys, 13-year-old Raymond Davis, had gone to the park to look for his lost dog, prosecutors said. The other boy was 16-year-old Robert Avila. Their bodies were found next to each other. Both had been strangled.

Found Near Castaic

The others are Craig Victor Jonaites, 24, whose body was found in Long Beach in 1975; Mark Alan Marsh, 20, whose body was found near Castaic in 1980; Thomas Paxton Lee, 25, found in Long Beach in 1974, and three unidentified males named only as 'John Does.' Two of these were found in 1973 and the other in 1979.

Prosecutors claim that the list has validity, in part, because the entries are to some degree in chronological order.

For example, the first item on the list is "Stable." In the documents unsealed Monday, prosecutors revealed that they believe the entry refers to Wayne J. Dukette, found dead Oct. 5, 1971. This is the earliest of the 45 murders in the accusations.

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