SAN DIEGO — A judge today set aside David Carpenter's conviction for five Northern California trailside slayings because the jury forewoman had improperly learned of the defendant's criminal past.
"The court reluctantly has no alternative other than to grant the defendant a new trial," said Superior Court Judge Herbert B. Hoffman. "This is an absolute travesty that such a result could have happened in this case."
Marin County prosecutor John Posey said he has an appeal already prepared.
Carpenter, 58, remains jailed on an earlier conviction for murdering two hikers in Santa Cruz County state parks in 1981. The Marin slayings, which occurred during a nine-week period in late 1980, terrorized the North Bay area and left many popular Northern California hiking areas virtually deserted.