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'78 Deaths Recounted as Kraft Trial Resumes

November 01, 1988|JERRY HICKS | Times Staff Writer

After a delay of more than a week, the Randy Steven Kraft murder trial resumed in Santa Ana on Monday with evidence on two victims whose bodies were found near La Paz Road in south Orange County within a month of each other in 1978.

One was Keith Klingbeil, a 23-year-old from Everett, Wash., last seen hitchhiking toward his mother's home in Chula Vista. His body was found July 6, 1978. The other was Richard Allen Keith, a 20-year-old Camp Pendleton Marine, last seen in Carson at a girlfriend's house. He was found dead June 19, 1978.

Most of Monday was taken up with testimony from Dr. Robert Richards, who performed the autopsy on Keith. Both young men had been strangled.

Kraft, now 43, is charged with 16 Orange County murders, but prosecutors have accused him of a total of 45 murders in three states. Many of the other murders are likely to be introduced into the trial if Kraft is convicted and his case reaches a penalty phase.

The Klingbeil and Keith deaths are the eighth and ninth of the 16 introduced by Deputy Dist. Atty. Bryan F. Brown. He is expected this week to complete the presentation of two others, those of Roland Gerald Young and Scott Michael Hughes.

Brown has not yet introduced to jurors a list found in Kraft's car, which law enforcement authorities claim is a death list of Kraft's victims that he wrote himself. But Brown claims that Klingbeil is "Hike Out LB Boots" on the list. Klingbeil was wearing what prosecutors say were hiking boots at the time his body was found, and a matchbook from Long Beach was found in his pocket.

Brown also claims that Keith is "Marine Carson" on the list because that is the city where the Marine was last seen.

The Kraft trial, now in its fifth week since testimony began, had been on hold since Oct. 19. Part of the time off was because of a previously scheduled wedding anniversary vacation planned by Judge Donald A. McCartin before he was assigned the Kraft case. But primarily the delay resulted from the unavailability of some key expert witnesses.

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