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Inmate to Face Trial in 1978 Killings of Teens Near Barstow

A Canoga Park brother and sister were hitching home from Las Vegas when they were slain.

March 23, 2004|Sandra Murillo | Times Staff Writer

A Wisconsin prison inmate will stand trial for the 26-year-old murder of two Canoga Park teenage siblings, a San Bernardino County Superior Court judge ruled Monday.

William Floyd Zamastil is accused of killing Jacqueline Bradshaw, 18, and her brother Malcolm, 17, as the two hitchhiked from Las Vegas in 1978.

He was extradited and charged with the murder only last year after San Bernardino County sheriff's officials took a new look at the cold case.

In a preliminary hearing Monday, Judge Kenneth Barr agreed with attorneys for Zamastil who asked to have a key eyewitness' testimony stricken from the record. The judge also agreed with defense attorneys that letters from Zamastil to the district attorney's office could be considered plea negotiations, and therefore not admissible.

Barr's admissibility rulings applied only to Monday's preliminary hearing. His decisions are open to review by the judge overseeing Zamastil's trial, attorneys said.

A taped phone conversation in which Zamastil calmly tells detectives that he killed two teenagers in Barstow was allowed into evidence by Barr.

On the tape, recorded in 1982 while Zamastil was serving a life sentence for another murder in Wisconsin, a detective asks Zamastil if he had any involvement in some of their old cases.

"Can you give me an idea, Bill," on the "types of death?" asked the detective.

"The one we're talking about," Zamastil answered, "one of 'em should've had a big hole in the skull."

On March 26, 1978, the decomposed, partially clothed bodies of Jacqueline and Malcolm Bradshaw were found beside a dirt road a mile west of Interstate 15 and 13 miles south of Barstow.

The siblings, who had hitched a ride back from Vegas when a friend's car broke down, had been clubbed to death.

In testimony Monday, Sgt. Robert Dean of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said that when their bodies were found, the Bradshaw siblings had half-inch-square holes in their skulls.

Monday's testimony of Steve Melton, a gas station attendant who said he saw the three together shortly before the murders, was stricken from the record because one of his several interviews with deputies was conducted after he had been hypnotized.

Melton testified that Zamastil was the man he had seen with the Bradshaws at the gas station 25 years ago.

The three had pulled up in a small pickup with Nevada plates.

He could tell something was wrong with Jacqueline, he said. She bought cigarettes, while the boy pumped the gas.

"She was acting real nervous, and she was crying and she was cold," Melton testified.

The boy jumped in the back and got in a sleeping bag, he said. They asked for directions.

"I pointed down the road," Melton said. "Make a left and get on the freeway. That's the last time I seen 'em."

Under cross examination, however, Zamastil's attorney said this account, with the nervous, crying Jacqueline, differed from transcripts of interviews with police.

Zamastil's arraignment is scheduled for April 5.

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