Jurors recommended a death sentence Monday for a man who killed a fellow inmate in 2005 while he was awaiting trial for the slayings of two Marymount College students in the parking lot of a San Pedro supermarket.
Raymond Oscar Butler, 36, has already been sentenced to death for the March 25, 1994, shooting deaths of Takuma Ito, a Japanese citizen, and Go Matsuura, a U.S. citizen born in Japan - a crime that made headlines in both countries.
The California Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence for the slayings of Ito and Matsuura in the parking lot of a Ralphs store in San Pedro. But the state's highest court reversed his original conviction and death sentence for the March 26, 1995, jailhouse stabbing death of Tyrone Flemming, ruling that a judge had erroneously decided Butler could not act as his own attorney.
Butler did represent himself in the retrial of the Flemming case, but was unable to avoid the same outcome. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen is scheduled to sentence him on April 6.
In the penalty phase of trial, prosecutors introduced into evidence Butler's convictions for murdering Ito and Matsuura - but omitted any reference to the prior death sentence.
Deputy District Attorney David Barkhurst told jurors that the evidence they heard during the guilt portion of the trial was "the tip of the iceberg."
Butler has had a series of run-ins with fellow jail inmates, has had a number of weapons - including jail-made shanks - recovered from his cell and unleashed containers with feces and urine at prison guards who were bringing him library books or cleaning up trash, Barkhurst said.
"The death penalty is necessary in this case to adequately punish the defendant for the crimes he has committed," the prosecutor said.
The jury's other option was to recommend life in prison without possibility without parole.
The murders of Ito and Matsuura stunned Japan and prompted expressions of regret from President Bill Clinton and Walter Mondale, then the U.S. ambassador to Japan.
(source: Daily Breeze)