SANTA ANA — Orange County's longest-running criminal case came to a close Wednesday as a biker leader and former counterculture lawyer was sentenced to three consecutive prison terms of 15 years to life in the execution slayings of two bikers and the daughter of a Los Alamitos police officer.
Thomas F. Maniscalco, a Westminster attorney who co-founded the Hessians motorcycle club, had protested his innocence throughout the 10 years since his arrest in the case.
On Wednesday, Maniscalco sat impassively as Orange County Superior Court Judge Kathleen E. O'Leary sentenced him.
Maniscalco, 49, was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder for the shooting deaths of fellow Hessian Richard (Rabbit) Rizzone, 36; Rizzone's bodyguard, Thomas Monahan, 28, and Rizzone's girlfriend, Rena Miley, 19. Miley was also raped during the killings, which took place on Memorial Day in 1980 in Rizzone's Westminster home.
On Wednesday, Miley's father, now retired from the Los Alamitos force and living in Riverside County, told the judge that his family has never recovered from their loss.
"I think one only needs to use their imagination to understand the devastation to the entire family," Gary Miley said, adding that nine months after the murder he suffered a major heart attack that doctors attributed to stress.
Maniscalco, the son of a retired police sergeant, was convicted March 15, 1994--10 years after the date of his arrest.
During a tortuous odyssey through the legal system, there were two trials and numerous bizarre twists in the case--including the suicide of one of 17 judges involved in the case over the years.
Prosecutors said Maniscalco ordered the killings after a dispute over counterfeit money and drug profits that Rizzone allegedly skimmed from the motorcycle club. Defense attorneys, however, contended that Maniscalco was framed.
The case was always troublesome for police, who suspected that Maniscalco was involved but could not piece together enough evidence to make an arrest until four years after the crime.
Maniscalco and fellow biker Daniel M. Duffy of Long Beach were charged with the murders. A separate jury convicted Duffy in 1992, and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Maniscalco's first trial lasted 17 months, and jury deliberations spanned 26 days--a state record--before jurors deadlocked. During the second trial, jurors deliberated 24 days before convicting him of three counts of second-degree murder.