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Samantha Runnion

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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 9, 2004 | From Times Staff Reports
The long-delayed DNA-evidence pretrial hearing for the accused killer of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion will start Nov. 8, the first date for which the defense says it will be prepared, a Superior Court judge ruled Friday. Prosecutors said the new hearing date, which will be followed by a hearing on the defense team's change-of-venue motion, means that jury selection for Alejandro Avila's case will likely start in January.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 12, 2006 | Christine Hanley, Times Staff Writer
An Orange County woman who launched a foundation to protect children from sexual predators, after her 5-year-old daughter was abducted and murdered, on Tuesday honored 15 men and women who have helped carry out her cause. Erin Runnion, the keynote speaker at the inaugural Samantha's Pride fundraiser and awards ceremony in Newport Beach, also paid tribute to state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer and Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona as supporters of the Joyful Child Foundation.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 29, 2005 | Claire Luna, Times Staff Writer
Alejandro Avila was convicted Thursday in the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion, whose 2002 disappearance drew national attention during a wave of child abductions. The case was built mostly on DNA evidence, including what prosecutors said might have been tears that the Stanton girl shed in her killer's car. The eight-man, four-woman Orange County Superior Court jury reached its decision after almost nine hours of deliberations that stretched into a second day.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 17, 2005 | Claire Luna and Andrew Wang, Times Staff Writers
An Orange County jury decided Monday that Alejandro Avila should be executed for kidnapping, sexually assaulting and murdering Samantha Runnion, the 5-year-old Stanton girl who disappeared in 2002 during a rash of high-profile child abductions. As the verdict was read, Samantha's mother, Erin, sobbed quietly, rocking in her front-row seat as she clutched a tissue. Avila gazed downward and displayed no reaction.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 15, 2003 | Scott Martelle, Times Staff Writer
The public remembers her death. Her mother remembers her life. Well-wishers and former neighbors plan to gather at a Stanton condo complex today to mark the first anniversary of the abduction and slaying of Samantha Runnion. Samantha's mother, Erin Runnion, said she may not attend, preferring to celebrate what would have been the girl's seventh birthday later this month with a daylong children's art festival organized under a nonprofit foundation Runnion created in her daughter's memory.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 17, 2005 | Claire Luna and Andrew Wang, Times Staff Writers
An Orange County jury decided Monday that Alejandro Avila should be executed for kidnapping, sexually assaulting and murdering Samantha Runnion, the 5-year-old Stanton girl who disappeared in 2002 during a rash of high-profile child abductions. As the verdict was read, Samantha's mother, Erin, sobbed quietly, rocking in her front-row seat as she clutched a tissue. Avila gazed downward and displayed no reaction.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 29, 2003 | Christine Hanley, Times Staff Writer
In documents unsealed Thursday that give the first glimpse of the evidence against Alejandro Avila, prosecutors allege that cat hairs, footprints, a security videotape from a San Clemente gas station and ATM records link him to the kidnapping and strangulation of Samantha Runnion.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 21, 2002 | JACK LEONARD and CHRISTINE HANLEY, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
It was late Wednesday morning, and the army of detectives investigating the kidnapping and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion was still at square one. A day and a half after her kidnapping and nearly a day after her body was discovered, a massive dragnet had checked out scores of sex offenders, pulled over dozens of green cars and fielded hundreds of tips--but still produced little to go on. FBI profilers privately predicted they were in for a long search to identify the killer.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 5, 2005 | Claire Luna, Times Staff Writer
Samantha Runnion idolized storybook heroes and probably spent the last hours of her life praying for one to rescue her, her mother said Wednesday in testimony that evoked tears from jurors deciding the fate of the girl's murderer. Instead of being saved, the 5-year-old suffered a "humiliating" death, Erin Runnion said in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana. "What infuriates me is I know she thought somebody would save her," Runnion said. "Her entire vision of the world was devastated."
NEWS
July 26, 2002
I believe the press should have access to information and the ability to publish information that will increase our understanding of issues. The 911 tape did not need to be public ("Better to Have Left 911 Tape Unheard," July 24). It did not add to our understanding of the Samantha Runnion tragedy. This tragedy left me feeling great sympathy for Samantha's family and friends. I know many people felt a personal connection, and that made the airing of the tape more offensive as it invaded the privacy of those people who should be shown compassion at this time.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 11, 2005 | Claire Luna, Times Staff Writer
After four days of testimony, lawyers for Samantha Runnion's killer on Tuesday finished painting their client as a loner whose depraved childhood inspired his pedophilia -- circumstances they hope will prompt jurors to spare his life. Closing arguments for the trial's penalty phase will be given today after Orange County Superior Court Judge William R. Froeberg instructs the jurors. The prosecution will call one rebuttal witness, a mental health expert.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 10, 2005 | Claire Luna, Times Staff Writer
An aunt of the man convicted of killing Samantha Runnion testified Monday that an uncle had molested him as a child, which defense lawyers hope will persuade jurors to spare Alejandro Avila from the death penalty. Jurors are expected to start deliberating next week whether the 30-year-old factory worker from Lake Elsinore should be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison without parole for the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of the 5-year-old Stanton girl.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 5, 2005 | Claire Luna, Times Staff Writer
Samantha Runnion idolized storybook heroes and probably spent the last hours of her life praying for one to rescue her, her mother said Wednesday in testimony that evoked tears from jurors deciding the fate of the girl's murderer. Instead of being saved, the 5-year-old suffered a "humiliating" death, Erin Runnion said in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana. "What infuriates me is I know she thought somebody would save her," Runnion said. "Her entire vision of the world was devastated."
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 29, 2005 | Claire Luna, Times Staff Writer
Alejandro Avila was convicted Thursday in the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion, whose 2002 disappearance drew national attention during a wave of child abductions. The case was built mostly on DNA evidence, including what prosecutors said might have been tears that the Stanton girl shed in her killer's car. The eight-man, four-woman Orange County Superior Court jury reached its decision after almost nine hours of deliberations that stretched into a second day.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 28, 2005 | Claire Luna, Times Staff Writer
Alejandro Avila has shown little emotion during a monthlong trial in which he has been labeled by prosecutors as the most abhorrent of criminals: a pedophile who snatched, assaulted and suffocated a 5-year-old girl. And his expression remained blank Wednesday morning as he watched eight men and four women file into the jury deliberation room at Orange County Superior Court to decide his fate. Orange County Assistant Dist. Atty.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 13, 2005 | Claire Luna, Times Staff Writer
Trying to blunt the prosecution's contention that Alejandro Avila had a propensity for molesting girls, the mother and three sisters of the man accused of murdering 5-year-old Samantha Runnion testified Tuesday they had never seen signs that he was a sexual abuser. They testified in Orange County Superior Court that young girls who were related to one of Avila's former girlfriends enjoyed seeing him.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 17, 2002 | CHRISTINE HANLEY, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Worried about tainting a jury, a judge Monday banned cameras and audio equipment from recording pretrial hearings for the Lake Elsinore man accused of kidnapping and killing 5-year-old Samantha Runnion. In his ruling, Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco P. Briseno rejected arguments made by three attorneys representing the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers and television stations. Briseno did not rule on whether cameras would be allowed during an actual trial.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 17, 2002 | Christine Hanley, Times Staff Writer
A new judge was appointed Monday to preside over the trial of a man accused of kidnapping and murdering 5-year-old Samantha Runnion after his lawyers accused the original judge of prejudice. Alejandro Avila's defense team did not explain the bias claim filed in court against Superior Court Judge F.P. Briseno. By law, attorneys are limited to one such request without having to give a reason. "That's a tactical decision I'm not going to discuss," said Assistant Public Defender Denise Gragg.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 12, 2005 | Claire Luna, Times Staff Writer
Defense attorneys in the Samantha Runnion murder trial opened their case Monday by calling 13 witnesses in quick order to bolster their contention that Alejandro Avila was miles away from the child when she was killed. The defense hopes that suggestions of Avila's presence elsewhere will blunt the prosecution's case, which includes evidence that DNA consistent with what could be the child's tears was found inside his car. The 30-year-old factory worker could get the death penalty if convicted.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 24, 2005 | Christine Hanley, Times Staff Writer
A second girl whom Alejandro Avila was acquitted of molesting testified Wednesday that Avila molested her at least 50 times several years before he allegedly kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered Samantha Runnion. The girl, now 14, testified in Orange County Superior Court that the incidents occurred when her mother was dating and sharing a Lake Elsinore apartment with Avila in the late 1990s.
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