Rodney Alcala Headed to New York

on June 20, 2012 in Serial Killers by

Having lost his appeals to prevent extradition, Rodney Alcala is headed to New York today to face charges in the murder of two women in the 1970’s. He could be arraigned as early as today.


  • ManOnMars says:

    According to Wikipedia, he studied under Roman Polanski… ha… two peas in a pod? :-> One sicko educating another 🙂

  • ManOnMars says:

    There is no comparison between the two!

    BTW, question: isn’t Alcala currently on death row in California? If he is, then why would New York prosecute such an expensive and potentially drawn out case in a place where there is no death penalty? If he gets life in prison in New York, then doesn’t he manage to dodge the death penalty?

    • Brian Combs says:

      Yes, Alcala was in death row in California until they shipped him to New York. But, given that California has a moratorium on executions (and no sign that the moratorium will ever be ended), he may have dodged it already.

      In fact, the argument Alcala made against extradition was that he needed to stay in California to work on his appeal there. Given that New York doesn’t have the death penalty, California should hold precedence, his lawyers argued.

      But the reasons that another jurisdiction would file charges on someone who is ostensibly already sentenced to spending the rest of his life in prison are twofold: one idealistic and one pragmatic.

      The idealistic reason is that the victim or victims deserve justice. I’m all for reducing governmental costs, but that is a hard one to argue against.

      The pragmatic reason is that sometimes cases fall through and people get out. Coral Watts was about to be released in Houston, Texas when prosecutors in Michigan charged him with two murders of their own.

      Ken McDuff brutally killed three teenagers in Tarrant County, Texas in 1966. He received three death sentences, but they were commuted to life in prison when the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty.

      On October 11, 1989, he walked out because of prison overcrowding. He went on to kill at least eleven more people…

      • ManOnMars says:

        Thanks for the great explanation.

        I agree 100% with the pragmatic view point. It does make sense to prosecute him for the other murders because, as you point out, if he gets released for some reason, there is another jail cell waiting for him somewhere. You are right, if it were not for the Michigan convictions, Coral Watts would have walked. (Digression: I wonder if his confessions in Texas were admissable in Michigan?)

        The idealistic reason sounds good, but there are more serial killers than I can list who were only convicted on a handful of their murders because they had enough to put them away or to death on just one or more, but not all.

        Is it just because of government cost that they didn’t prosecute them or is there some other reasons? I’m sure there are other reasons for not doing it.

        This might be a good topic for a future podcast… 🙂

        • Brian Combs says:

          Regarding Coral Watts, I believe he kept his mouth shut about Michigan. His confessions were all to crimes in Houston.

          Regarding only prosecuting for a handful of murders, that usually happens when all the crimes are in the same jurisdiction. There’s no statute of limitations on murder, so if the serial killer is ever going to walk, the prosecutor can simply file on the uncharged murders.

          Other than cost, another reason not to file on all the murders is that evidence might not be solid on all of them. If a prosecutor feels good that she can get convictions on say three of ten murders, she’ll probably move forward on just those.

          Bringing in the cases that are less clean might pollute all of them, and lead to a horrible outcome.

          Beyond that, it probably depends upon the victims families. In most cases, the prosecutors will discuss things with the victim’s relatives. If they’ve got the offender on other cases, and the family doesn’t want to be drug through it, perhaps he’ll hold those cases back.

          Of course, it’s ultimately up to the prosecutor’s discretion, but I believe families are at least consulted, in many cases.

          Could be an interesting idea for a podcast. Would probably have to be an interview, as many of these legal questions are over my head.

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