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Pair Plead Not Guilty in Man's Killing

Victim's wife and a chat room friend plotted his ambush near an Ontario mall, authorities say.

May 24, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

A former country music disc jockey and a Victorville woman he met over the Internet pleaded not guilty Friday to charges they killed her husband after luring him into a nighttime ambush near the Ontario Mills Mall.

Alan Lama and Cathleen Quinn, who appeared in San Bernardino County Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga, face murder charges with special circumstances, which means they could be eligible for the death penalty. The two are accused of killing Quinn's husband, James, on Jan. 24.

Lama, 34, was a morning disc jockey from 1998 until early 2001 at a Kingman, Ariz., country music radio station. Former co-workers at KGMN-FM, a station known as "Super Country K-99," described Lama as "bombastic" and "an overgrown Teddy bear" and said they were shocked to learn he had been accused of murder.

Lama and Quinn met in an Internet chat room, where authorities said Lama posted a picture of himself.

In e-mails sent from her home to Lama, Cathleen Quinn, 34, said that her husband was physically and mentally abusive, authorities say. Lama allegedly told her he would help her "straighten" James Quinn out.

Authorities in San Bernardino County say Lama stabbed and strangled James Quinn, 36, as part of a plan he helped orchestrate with Cathleen Quinn.

The plan, authorities say, was carried out days after Lama moved from his home in Texas to an Apple Valley apartment rented by Cathleen Quinn.

In an affidavit in support of a search warrant Jan. 25, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Det. James Williams wrote: "Cathleen confessed to her involvement in her husband's murder" after being confronted with the results of a polygraph test.

Cathleen Quinn and Lama devised a plan in which she and her husband went to dinner at the Dave & Buster's restaurant in Ontario Mills, Williams said.

After dinner, Cathleen Quinn pretended to miss a freeway onramp and turned onto a desolate side street where Lama was waiting, the detective said.

Williams said Lama attacked James Quinn, cutting his face with a knife, which broke the blade, and then using a cord from his hooded sweatshirt to strangle him.

Richard Carnero, Lama's attorney, said Friday that Lama and Quinn have not spoken since their arrests because, when questioned by police, she allegedly provided details about the murder plot.

"[Quinn] has certainly made some admissions," said Quinn's attorney, Gary Ablard.

Cathleen Quinn also faces a special circumstance of murder for financial gain because she was eligible to collect $300,000 from her husband's two life insurance policies.

At KGMN, co-workers said the "Al Lama in the Morning" show featured an aggressive shtick in which Lama would champion causes and address controversial news stories.

A pretrial hearing for Lama and Quinn is set for June 20.

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