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Killer Confesses; It's Not Enough to Set Pair Free

November 01, 1995| From Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. — A serial killer's confession to a murder isn't enough to free two people already serving time for the crime, a judge ruled.

More evidence is needed to warrant releasing LaVerne Pavlinac and John Sosnovske, despite "troubling" evidence implicating the man dubbed the Happy Face Killer, Circuit Judge Paul Lipscomb said Monday.

Tom Phelan, attorney for the man who has confessed, Keith Jesperson, called the ruling "astounding. In my mind there is no room to believe that these two people, Pavlinac and Sosnovske, had anything to do with the murder of Taunja Bennett."

Even Dist. Atty. Michael Schrunk told the judge last week there is considerable evidence that Pavlinac and Sosnovske were wrongly sentenced in 1991.

Jesperson, who claims to have killed eight women, gave police details only the killer could know, Schrunk said.

Jesperson was dubbed the Happy Face Killer because he drew smiley faces atop neatly printed letters to the media.

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