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Einhorn, on Stand, Denies Killing Girlfriend

Ex-counterculture guru describes a stormy relationship with Holly Maddux. He said she had moved out of their apartment many times.

October 15, 2002|John J. Goldman | Times Staff Writer

After two decades as a fugitive, Ira Einhorn took the witness stand Monday and denied killing a former girlfriend whose mummified body was found in a locked trunk in his Philadelphia apartment.

"No, I did not kill Holly Maddux," he said during four hours of testimony in Philadelphia's Common Pleas Court, which was filled with spectators and reporters. He is scheduled to be cross-examined today.

Describing an increasingly stormy five-year relationship, he said Maddux -- a blond onetime cheerleader from Texas -- had moved out of their shared apartment several times because she had "difficulties" with his womanizing.

The former counterculture guru told the jury that Maddux once left him for 4 1/2 months, and that he had no idea where she went. He said Maddux told him in September 1977 that their relationship was over, and that she traveled from New York to Philadelphia to pick up her belongings.

Einhorn maintained that Maddux left and never returned, despite telephoning several days later and promising they would stay in contact. "She never lived up to it," he said. Prosecutors contend that Einhorn bludgeoned the 30-year-old woman to death on Sept. 11, 1977.

Her remains were not discovered until March 1979. Einhorn testified that other people had access to his apartment during this period. After he learned the body police discovered in the trunk was Maddux, Einhorn said, "I broke up for days. It ripped me to pieces."

In the past, Einhorn has contended that he was framed by the CIA because he was researching psychic phenomena as weaponry, and that the body was placed in the trunk without his knowledge. He did not focus on that claim during his appearance Monday.

Outside the courthouse, which remained open on Columbus Day solely for Einhorn's trial, defense lawyer William T. Cannon stressed the importance of his client's testimony.

"Ira has taken this whole case into his lap this morning," Cannon told reporters. "His credibility will determine whether the jury convicts or acquits him."

He acknowledged that Einhorn, 62, faces an uphill fight against strong circumstantial evidence. "He has a humongous job," Cannon said.

Another former girlfriend testified last week that Einhorn hit her with a bottle and tried to strangle her, and that he wrote a poem titled "An act of violence." A former bookstore owner told the jury that Einhorn shopped for a how-to manual on converting a corpse into a mummy.

Maddux traveled from her home in Tyler, Texas, to attend Bryn Mawr College -- meeting Einhorn at a Philadelphia restaurant popular with students at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a graduate.

Einhorn told the jury his early years with Maddux were loving and "happy times," but added, "she got increasingly dissatisfied that I was sleeping with other women."

He said that several times when Maddux left, "she just disappeared into thin air."

He admitted violent behavior with two women during the 1960s, but told the jury he went into therapy. "I felt as if the demon was under control," he said.

On the eve of his trial in 1981, Einhorn fled to Europe because, the defense contends, he believed prosecutors were withholding evidence from him.

He was tried in absentia in Philadelphia in 1993, convicted of Maddux's murder and sentenced to death. But after he was captured living under an assumed name in southern France in 1997, that verdict was set aside after courts in France ruled that a trial without Einhorn present was intolerable.

As a condition of his extradition, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed a law granting him a second murder trial where he would not receive the death penalty if he was found guilty.

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This report includes material from Associated Press and Reuters

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