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20070913: Admitted serial killer Watts gets mandatory life sentence MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
A second life prison sentence has been given to a confessed serial killer, this time for slaying a Western Michigan University student more than three decades ago.

Kalamazoo County Circuit Judge Gary C. Giguere Jr. sentenced Coral Eugene Watts, 53, on Thursday for the 1974 stabbing death of 19-year-old Gloria Steele. Watts made some brief comments about abortion during his sentencing hearing, while the victim’s mother and daughter spoke about losing Steele, the court said.

In July, a jury convicted Watts of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory prison sentence in Michigan of life with no possibility of parole. He was convicted of the same charge in December 2004 for the 1979 killing of Helen Dutcher, 36, in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale.

Watts, a native of Inkster, which also is near Detroit, has admitted to killing more than a dozen women but denied having anything to do with Steele’s death. The college student was stabbed more than 30 times in the apartment that she shared with her daughter, who was then 3 years old.

Watts received immunity for 12 other killings to which he had he confessed — 11 in Texas and one in Michigan that did not involved Steele or Dutcher — as part of a 1982 deal with Texas prosecutors.

He was given a 60-year sentence for burglary with intent to murder, but mandatory release laws and an appeals court ruling reduced his sentence by more than 35 years.

Michigan authorities revived the Dutcher and Steele cases in an effort to keep Watts behind bars because he was to have been released from a Huntsville, Texas, prison in May 2006.

The Michigan attorney general’s office has said Watts is a suspect in 26 other slayings and may have killed more than 80 women.
 

20070302: State Supreme Court denies appeal by serial killer MI Grand Rapids Serial Killer News

The Michigan Supreme Court has refused to hear a request for a new trial from confessed serial killer Coral Eugene Watts, who appealed his first-degree murder conviction in the 1979 stabbing death of a suburban Detroit woman.

In November 2004, an Oakland County jury convicted Watts of first-degree murder in the slaying of Helen Dutcher, a 36-year-old woman from Ferndale. The next month, a judge gave him a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole.

At his sentencing hearing, Watts denied killing Dutcher.

The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the conviction last August, rejecting an argument from Watts, now 54, that the jury should not have heard evidence about his confessions to 11 killings in Texas and one in Michigan. He also had argued that his trial lawyer inadequately represented him and should have pursued an insanity defense.

The Court of Appeals said prosecutors in Oakland County were not bound by immunity promises that Watts received elsewhere. It also said there was insufficient evidence that his defense lawyer mishandled the case.

In a one-sentence order issued this week, the Supreme Court said "we are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this court."

Watts received immunity for 12 killings to which he had he confessed -- 11 in Texas and one in Michigan -- as part of a 1982 deal with Texas prosecutors. He was given a 60-year sentence for burglary with intent to murder, but mandatory release laws and an appeals court ruling reduced his sentence by more than 35 years.

Michigan authorities revived the Dutcher case in an effort to keep Watts behind bars because he was set to be released from a Huntsville, Texas prison last May.

Watts, who was raised in the Detroit suburb of Inkster, is serving his current sentence at the Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility.

 

20060809: Michigan appeals court upholds Texas serial killer's conviction MI Lansing Serial Killer News
An appeals court has upheld the first-degree murder conviction of confessed serial killer Coral Eugene Watts, who was prosecuted in a 1979 Michigan killing to prevent his release from a Texas prison. In 2004, a suburban Detroit jury convicted the 52-year-old in the fatal stabbing of 36-year-old Helen Dutcher in Ferndale. He received the mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Watts appealed the conviction, saying the jury should not have heard evidence about his confessions to 11 killings in Texas and one in Michigan. He also said his trial lawyer inadequately represented him and should have pursued an insanity defense. The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected those arguments Tuesday. It said prosecutors in Michigan's Oakland County were not bound by immunity promises Watts received elsewhere. It also said there was insufficient evidence that his defense lawyer mishandled the case. Police suspected Watts in Dutcher's death for years but never charged him because they assumed he would have been in his 80s if he ever got out of prison in Texas, where he was serving 60 years for burglary with intent to murder. But later court rulings in Texas would have made him eligible for release much sooner. Michigan, Texas and Canadian authorities suspect Watts in the slayings of dozens of other women.
 

20060428: Some of serial killer's crimes are admissible MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
A victory of sorts for Kalamazoo County prosecutors as they look to convict admitted serial killer Coral Watts for the murder of a Western Michigan University student.

Prosecutors have charged Watts with the 1974 murder of Gloria Steele.

A judge had ruled prosecutors couldn't use Watts' past murder convictions against him in this case. But in a ruling on Tuesday, the Court of Appeals disagreed, somewhat.

The court ruled some of his past crimes are admissible, while others are not.

It is now up to a Kalamazoo County judge to determine if prosecutors have enough evidence to send Watts to trial.

Watts received immunity in Texas for 12 killings to which he had confessed. He is now being held in a maximum security prison in Ionia for the murder of Helen Dutcher in 1979 in Ferndale.

 

20060426: Serial killer's case returned to lower court MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
The Michigan Court of Appeals has issued its ruling in the case of serial killer Coral Watts. The court ruled that some, but not all, of the evidence presented by prosecutors in Kalamazoo is admissible. That means the case is going back to a circuit court judge.

Watts is accused of killing Western Michigan University student Gloria Steele in 1974.

The prosecution submitted evidence of Watts' other murders as evidence in the Steele case.

A judge ruled that evidence was not admissible.

But in disagreeing, the court of appeals says some of the cases, specifically two Michigan murders and two murders in Texas to which Watts has confessed, are relevant to prove identity and motive.

The court has ordered the judge to reconsider the case including only those four cases.
 

20051216: Appeals court told to consider Watts case MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News

The Michigan Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to consider an appeal over the latest case against confessed serial killer Coral Eugene Watts.

Watts, who last year was sentenced to life in prison in a 1979 slaying in Ferndale, is now being prosecuted for the 1974 killing of Gloria Steele in Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo County prosecutors appealed a May ruling by Circuit Judge William G. Schma, who said a district court should not have considered testimony about Watts' criminal history and confessions to other killings when it ordered him to stand trial in the Steele case.

Schma sent the case back to District Judge Richard A. Santoni to review the transcript and findings of the Feb. 22 preliminary hearing. He ordered Santoni to consider whether Watts should stand trial if his record was not part of the equation.

Excluding Watts' past would make it hard for the prosecution to make its case, since there is no physical evidence linking Watts to Steele's death.

The prosecutor's office initially asked the state Court of Appeals to review Schma's ruling, but the court declined. It then went to the Supreme Court, which on Dec. 8 sent the case back to the Court of Appeals.

It was unclear when the appeals court would take up the matter.

Before his conviction last year by an Oakland County jury, Watts had been scheduled for release from a Texas prison in 2006 after receiving immunity for 12 killings to which he had confessed as part of a 1982 plea deal with Texas prosecutors.

 

20050806: Serial killer's case heads into second appeal MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
The murder case against a serial killer accused in the 1974 stabbing death of a Western Michigan University student is on hold while prosecutors appeal a lower court ruling to the Michigan Supreme Court. Kalamazoo County prosecutors plan to ask the state's highest court to decide whether a district court should have considered testimony about Coral Watts' past convictions and admissions to other killings in deciding to bind him over for trial, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported in a Saturday story. Watts, 51, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Gloria Steele. She was stabbed 33 times in the chest on Oct. 30, 1974, in the apartment she shared with her 3-year-old daughter. Watts attended the university at the time of Steele's killing. Kalamazoo County Circuit Judge William Schma ruled in May that a district court judge shouldn't have considered testimony about Watts' past convictions and admissions to other killings when he decided to bind Watts over for trial in Steele's murder. Schma sent the case back to District Judge Richard Santoni to consider binding Watts over on murder charges without the inadmissible evidence. The Michigan Court of Appeals issued a ruling on Wednesday denying the prosecutors' request to hear an appeal of Schma's ruling. Assistant Prosecutor Scott Brower said his office will ask the state Supreme Court to consider a motion that would require the Appeals Court to consider the merits of appeal on Schma's ruling. In the meantime, Santoni said the case remains on hold, pending the high court's decision. Defense attorney Jeff Getting said he was disappointed to hear that the case won't be moving forward, despite the Appeals Court ruling. An Oakland County judge sentenced Watts to life in prison in December for a 1979 murder in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale. Before that, Watts had been scheduled for release from a Texas prison after getting immunity for 12 killings to which he had confessed -- 11 in Texas and one in Michigan -- as part of a 1982 plea deal with Texas prosecutors.
 

20050625: Judge returns serial killer's case to lower court MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
 A case involving a convicted serial killer accused of a 1974 murder has been returned to a lower court.

A court ordered that the evidence be reconsidered without including the defendant's past convictions and confessions.

Kalamazoo County Circuit Judge William G. Schma also denied a request from prosecutors to put the case on hold until the Michigan Court of Appeals reviews Schma's May 27th ruling.

The ruling disallows Coral Watts' criminal record as evidence at trial.

Schma sent Watts' case back to a Kalamazoo County District Judge.
 

20050623: Controversy over evidence in trial of serial killer MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
 

There is a big development in the case of confessed serial killer Coral Watts.

Watts is charged with first-degree murder in the 1974 death of Gloria Steele. The 19-year-old Western Michigan University student was stabbed 33 times in the chest.

A judge Thursday threw the case back to district court, ruling that the judge there can only use the evidence from the 1974 case to determine if there is enough evidence for Watts to stand trial in Kalamazoo.

The prosecution appealed in late May after a judge said Watts' past convictions and confessions cannot be used in his upcoming trial. They are waiting right now for the Court of Appeals to rule.

Watts was sentenced to life in prison in December for a 1979 murder in suburban Detroit.

 

20050613: Judge stymies effort to prosecute serial killer for another murder MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
 

Admitted serial killer Coral Eugene Watts may have confessed to killing 12 women in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but those confessions alone will not be enough to try him for the 1974 murder of a college student, a judge ruled.

Kalamazoo Circuit Court Judge William Schma issued his May 27 decision to keep Watts' 1982 confessions to Texas authorities out of evidence in the case of Gloria Steele's murder 30 years ago.

Schma said the prejudicial value of the "prior bad act" evidence outweighed the probative value of linking the crime to Watts, a suspect in as many as 60 murders in Texas, Michigan and Canada.

"The confessions alone, without any direct evidence, are tenuous evidence of the defendant's involvement," Schma told Courttv.com. "Anybody who hears about those confessions will want to convict him."

The decision stymies Michigan's latest effort to pile up convictions against the country's most prolific killer, who received life without parole in 2004 for the 1979 stabbing death of another Michigan woman.

In a state without the death penalty, the largely symbolic prosecutions are about seeking justice for the victims and their families, and holding Watts to account for his crimes, said Kalamazoo assistant prosecutor Scott Brower.

"Gloria Steele and her family deserve justice," Brower told Courttv.com. "Obviously we're disappointed. This decision significantly affects the progress of our case."

The case against Watts in Steele's death is entirely circumstantial, even by the state's admission.

The 19-year-old freshman was stabbed in the chest more than 30 times in her dorm room at Western Michigan University, where Watts was also a student in October 1974.

A witness testified in a preliminary hearing that she saw a black man running down the stairs of the complex around the time of the murder but stopped short of identifying Watts as the man.

The state also produced records that Watts received a parking ticket in the lot attached to Steele's dorm around the same time.

The defendant's lawyer filed a motion to dismiss the charges in light of the decision.

"This ruling takes away the state's ability to convict Mr. Watts based on his past acts," defense attorney Jeff Getting told Courttv.com. "The state has no DNA, no fingerprints and no trace physical evidence at all." Brower confirmed that statement.

Watts confessed to 12 murders and five assaults in 1982, when he was arrested in Dallas during a home invasion.

He was initially charged with the attempted murder of student Lori Lister, who was found unconscious in her bathtub as Watts filled it with water.

Anxious to close the books on a number of unsolved murders in the area, Texas authorities struck a deal with Watts for 60 years in prison on aggravated burglary charges in exchange for confessing and leading police to the bodies of the victims he chose to bury.

A Texas appeals court decision had significantly reduced Watts' sentence when in 2004, just two years away from Watts' release, the Michigan Attorney General's office successfully prosecuted him for the 1979 slashing death of Helen Dutcher.

An eyewitness identified Watts as the man he saw stab Dutcher, 37, 12 times in the face, neck and chest in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale, in a manner similar to the other murders Watts admitted.

In that trial, Oakland County Circuit Judge Richard Kuhn allowed jurors to hear about the methods Watts had previously used as evidence of "a common plan, purpose or scheme."

He also allowed three of his surviving victims to describe for the panel their near-death experiences with Watts.

At Watts' sentencing in open court, Kuhn lamented that he could not mete out the death penalty and called on the Michigan legislature to amend the state's constitution.

Watts' trial attorney in the Dutcher case says he believes his client would have been acquitted in her death were it not for the evidence of his past crimes.

"Once the jury hears about those prior bad acts, the presumption of innocence is gone," said defense lawyer Ronald Kaplovitz. "When they hear about all those bad things, they think he probably could have done it."

Kaplovitz says as a defense attorney, he finds the use of prior bad act evidence "troublesome."

"He's not a sympathetic character to begin with, and with this evidence, you run the risk of having a jury look past the facts of the case at hand and convict him for something he already admitted to."

 

20050529: Judge rules convicted killer cannot use past confessions in new trial MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
Kalamazoo judge say the past convictions and confessions of serial killer Coral Watts' cannot be used in his upcoming murder trial. The 51 year-old is charged with first-degree murder in the 1974 death of 19 year-old Gloria Steele. The Western Michigan University student was stabbed 33 times in the chest. Watts was sentenced to life in prison in December for a 1979 murder in suburban Detroit. Watts has confessed to 12 killings: 11 in Texas and one in Michigan. He worked out a plea deal in Texas, but because of Texas law he was scheduled to be released soon for good behavior. The judge presiding over the current case says prosecutors haven't produced evidence pointing to Watts as Steele's killer.
 

20050330: Date rescheduled for confessed serial killer's next murder trial MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
A new trial date has been set for a confessed serial killer charged in the 1974 stabbing death of a young single mother who attended Western Michigan University.

Because of a scheduling conflict, the start of Coral Eugene Watts' trial was moved back this week from Aug. 9 to Aug. 23, according to the Kalamazoo County Circuit Court. Judge William G. Schma will preside.

Watts' pretrial hearing was pushed back from April 4 to April 18, and his settlement conference was moved up from Aug. 5 to July 29. If no plea settlement has been reached by then, the case would go to trial.

Watts, 51, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Gloria Steele. While in her second year at Western Michigan, Steele was stabbed 33 times in the chest on Oct. 30, 1974, in the apartment she shared with her 3-year-old daughter.

Watts was raised in the Detroit suburb of Inkster and attended the university at the time of Steele's killing.

An Oakland County judge sentenced Watts to life in prison in December for the 1979 murder of Helen Dutcher in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale.

Before that, Watts had received immunity for 12 killings to which he had he confessed -- 11 in Texas and one in Michigan -- as part of a 1982 deal with Texas prosecutors. He was given a 60-year sentence for burglary with intent to murder, but mandatory release laws and an appeals court ruling reduced his sentence by more than 35 years.

Michigan authorities revived the Steele and Dutcher cases in an effort to keep Watts behind bars because he was set to be released from a Huntsville, Texas, prison on May 8, 2006.

 

20050315: Trial date set for next murder trial MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
A date has been set for confessed serial killer Coral Eugene Watts to stand trial in the 1974 slaying of a young single mother who attended Western Michigan University.

Watts, 51, is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of 19-year-old Gloria Steele, who was stabbed more than 30 times.

His trial is to begin Aug. 9 in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court before Judge William G. Schma, the court said Tuesday. A pretrial hearing is set for April 4 to discuss matters that need to be resolved before trial.

An Oakland County judge sentenced Watts to life in prison in December for the 1979 murder of Helen Dutcher in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale.

Before that, he had received immunity for 12 killings that he confessed to -- 11 in Texas and one in Michigan -- as part of a 1982 deal with Texas prosecutors. He was given a 60-year sentence for burglary with intent to murder, but mandatory release laws and an appeals court ruling reduced his sentence by more than 35 years.

While in her second year at Western Michigan, Steele was stabbed 33 times in the chest on Oct. 30, 1974, in the apartment she shared with her 3-year-old daughter, Chamiece.

Watts was raised in the Detroit suburb of Inkster and attended the university at the time of Steele's killing. Most of Watts' known victims were stabbed or strangled.

Michigan authorities revived the Dutcher and Steele cases in an effort to keep Watts behind bars. He is set to be released from a Huntsville, Texas, prison on May 8, 2006, despite leading police to the bodies of three victims, confessing to 13 murders and being suspected of committing many more.

 

20050223: Serial killer ordered to stand trial in 1974 slaying MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
Confessed serial killer Coral Eugene Watts, who last year received a life prison sentence for killing a woman in 1979, was ordered Tuesday to stand trial in a second Michigan killing.

District Court Judge Richard Santoni ruled there was enough evidence for Watts, 51, to stand trial in the 1974 stabbing death of Gloria Steele, a 19-year-old Western Michigan University student.

A Circuit Court arraignment date for Watts wasn't immediately set following his preliminary examination.

Watts' attorney, Jeffrey Getting, argued there was not enough similarity between the other crimes and the Steele killing.

"The types of victims are different ... their ages are different, the locations where they were attacked is different, the types of weapons that was used is different, everything is different," he said.

Prosecutors say they are bringing the case now to serve justice.

Watts was raised in Inkster and briefly attended Western Michigan University in the 1970s.

An Oakland County judge sentenced Watts to life in prison in December for the murder of Helen Dutcher in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale.

Before that, he had received immunity for 12 killings that he confessed to _ 11 in Texas and one in Michigan _ as part of a 1982 deal with Texas prosecutors. He was given a 60-year sentence for burglary with intent to murder, but mandatory release laws and an appeals court ruling lopped more than 35 years off his sentence.

Michigan authorities revived the Dutcher case in an effort to keep him behind bars.

 

20050203: Judge to hear evidence of other crimes at serial killer´s preliminary exam MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
Prosecutors will be allowed to introduce evidence about the other crimes of confessed serial killer Coral Eugene Watts at his preliminary examination in a second Michigan murder case, a judge ruled Thursday.

Judge Richard Santoni of the 8th District Court granted the prosecution's motion to introduce evidence about Watts' known crimes at his preliminary exam in the 1974 stabbing death of Gloria Steele, Kalamazoo County assistant prosecutor Scott Brower said.

A message seeking comment was left Thursday for Watts' attorney, Jeffrey Getting.

An Oakland County judge sentenced Watts to life in prison in December for the 1979 murder of Helen Dutcher in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale.

Before that, Watts had received immunity for 12 killings that he confessed to -- 11 in Texas and one in Michigan -- as part of a 1982 deal with Texas prosecutors. He was given a 60-year sentence for burglary with intent to murder, but mandatory release laws and an appeals court ruling lopped more than 35 years off his sentence.

Michigan authorities revived the Dutcher case in an effort to keep him behind bars.

During the Oakland County trial, prosecutors also were permitted to introduce evidence about Watts' other crimes in order to demonstrate a pattern.

Brower said Thursday's ruling applies only to the Feb. 22 preliminary exam. If the case goes to trial, he likely will have to file the motion again with the trial judge.

 

20050203: Other crimes to be used in court against serial killer MI Grand Rapids Serial Killer News
Prosecutors in Kalamazoo will be allowed to introduce evidence about other crimes committed by confessed serial killer Coral Watts.

A judge has granted the prosecution's motion to introduce evidence about Watts' known crimes at his preliminary exam later this month.

Watts is accused in the 1974 stabbing death of Western Michigan University student Gloria Steele.

24 Hour News 8 spoke to the prosecutor Thursday who says the ruling was significant for the case against Watts.

In December, an Oakland County judge sentenced Watts to life in prison for the 1979 murder of Helen Dutcher. That case was revived because Watts was set to go free from a Texas prison because of good behavior, despite confessing to a dozen murders.

 

20041228: Convicted serial killer's arraignment set in Kalamazoo MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
Coral Watts faces arraignment today in another decades-old Michigan killing...Two days ago, the 51-year-old confessed serial killer received a life prison sentence for killing a woman in suburban Detroit in 1979...The new charges involve the 1974 stabbing death of Western Michigan University student Gloria Steele in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The 19-year-old single mother was stabbed more than 30 times...Watts is suspected in dozens of murders in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Police still are investigating unsolved murders to determine if they can link them to Watts...He was brought by prosecutors to Michigan in a bid keep him from getting out of a Texas prison in less than two years...Watts had received immunity for 12 killings -- eleven in the Houston area and one in Michigan -- in a 1982 deal with Texas prosecutors. That deal led to a 60-year burglary sentence, but mandatory release laws and an appeals court ruling reduced the sentence by more than 35 years. Watts was due to be released from a Texas prison in April 2006.
 

20041208: Confessed serial killer to be arraigned in Kalamazoo MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
Confessed serial killer Coral Watts is scheduled for arraignment in a Kalamazoo courtroom Thursday, a day after being sentenced in Oakland County...Watts, 51, will spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole for the murder of Helen Dutcher...Watts was sentenced Tuesday in a Pontiac courtroom for the stabbing death of the Ferndale woman...Prosecutors in Kalamazoo issued a warrant last month for Watts in connection with the 1974 murder of Gloria Steele, a Western Michigan University student at the time...Watts was due to be released from a Texas prison in April 2006 after getting immunity for 12 other killings as part of a deal with prosecutors in Texas...
 

20041207: Confessed serial killer sentenced to life in prison without parole MI Pontiac Serial Killer News
A confessed serial killer convicted in a case brought by Michigan prosecutors in a desperate bid to keep him from getting out of prison in less than two years was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole. ..Coral Eugene Watts, 51, was found guilty last month of stabbing 36-year-old Helen Dutcher to death in a Detroit suburb in 1979. ..Before being sentenced, Watts denied killing Dutcher and said he hoped someday authorities find the person who killed her. .."I never seen her before in my life. It's one murder in my life I did not do," said Watts, who plans to appeal the conviction. ..Beth Mrozinski, Dutcher's niece, read a statement on behalf of the family and Watts' other victims. She asked Watts to confess to any other killings so victims' families could have closure. She also read a list of Watts' murder victims and other women who survived his attacks. .."You have taken away and butchered our loved ones. You have made sure we are tortured every day," she told the court. ..Watts was due to be released from a Texas prison in April 2006. ..He had received immunity for 12 killings -- 11 in Texas and one in Michigan -- as part of a 1982 deal with Texas prosecutors that led to a 60-year sentence for burglary with intent to murder. But mandatory release laws and an appeals court ruling lopped more than 35 years off his sentence. ..Police had suspected Watts in Dutcher's death for years, but never charged him because they assumed he would be in his 80s if he ever got out of prison in Texas. ..In an urgent effort to keep Watts behind bars, Michigan's attorney general appealed for help on national TV in January. In response, a man who claimed he witnessed the attack on Dutcher from his porch came forward. ..Law enforcement officials in Michigan, Texas and Canada suspect Watts in the slayings of dozens of other women. Watts has told them he would kill again if he ever got out of prison, authorities said. .
 

20041119: Eyewitness helps convict serial killer MI Pontiac Serial Killer News
Julie Sanchez, center right, hugs her daughter, Juanita Kadolph, right, and Joseph Foy, facing camera, hugs John Semander after Coral Eugene Watts, 51, was found guilty of murder Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2004, in Pontiac, Mich., in a quarter-century old murder case that authorities believe was the best bet for keeping him off the streets. Watts was convicted in the Dec. 1, 1979 stabbing death of Helen Dutcher, 36, in a Ferndale, Mich., alley. Foy was the key witness in the murder trial and Sanchez was attacked by Watts on the side of a Texas highway more than 20 years ago as she tried to fix a flat tire on her car. Watts slashed Sanchez's throat and left her for dead, but she survived. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) .PONTIAC, Mich. -- Their gaze was locked for mere seconds all those years ago, in a dimly lit alley, at a distance two men might keep while playing a game of catch. But the moment was seared into Joseph Foy's memory, and he never forgot the face of a serial killer..."I always see his eyes," Foy said...Foy's remarkable recall of the 1979 encounter - demonstrated by a sketch he helped an artist create and his immediate recognition of the suspect 2 1/2 years later in TV footage - was the only direct evidence linking Coral Eugene Watts to the killing for which he was convicted Wednesday..."It was forged in my mind. It was a nightmare that wouldn't go away because ... (the case) was stonewalled every time," Foy, 47, said in a post-verdict interview...Watts, who was scheduled for release in 2006 by way of a legal technicality, was convicted for the slaying of 36-year-old Helen Dutcher. He now faces life behind bars without parole...During the seven-day trial, Foy testified he saw Dutcher's slaying from his back porch in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale on Dec. 1, 1979. He said he was drawn to his window by his dog's insistent barking, and saw two people in an alley...He went outside for a better look and saw a man bring his arm down in a slashing motion before Dutcher fell to the ground. Foy said the man, about 75 feet away, turned toward him before getting into his car..."We both locked glances and held it for what I thought was an eternity," Foy told the jury...More than two years later, Foy was watching television with the sound turned down and caught a glimpse of Watts being led into a courtroom. The recognition was immediate. It was the killer from the alley...Foy contacted police again to tell them he now knew the killer's name. But the case never went anywhere because Watts already was slated to receive a lengthy prison sentence in Texas...Watts had been apprehended while attempting to kill two women in their apartment. He pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to commit murder and helped authorities solve a string of killings. In exchange, he was given immunity in 12 killings...Though many considered the 60-year sentence inadequate, Watts was expected to be in his 80s if he lived to see freedom. Oakland County prosecutors decided it wasn't worth pursuing a murder conviction in the Dutcher case...However, mandatory release laws and an appeals court ruling lopped more than 35 years off his sentence - and he was due for release in April 2006..."Back in '82, the last thing I was told was `Put it to bed,'" Foy said...But for him, it wasn't that simple. "It was an individual thing for me. I seen a life taken. I wanted justice for that life taken," he said...In 2002, Foy saw a story about Watts' impending release on TV and e-mailed the show - but never got a response...Then in January, he again saw footage of Watts, along with an appeal from Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox for information that could help keep Watts in prison. Foy contacted Cox's office, and the decision was made to prosecute Watts for the Dutcher killing...The jury heard evidence about Watts' confession to other crimes; only Foy linked him to the Dutcher slaying...Forensic artist Barbara Martin, who works for the Oakland County sheriff's department, had met with Foy a day after Dutcher's death to draw a composite sketch. At the trial, she testified many features in the sketch were strikingly similar to a 1982 mug shot of Watts...Watts' attorney Ronald Kaplovitz questioned Foy's ability to remember someone he saw so briefly in a darkened alley, and to retain that image for a quarter-century...In a telephone interview, Martin said Foy's ability to register details after seeing someone for just a few seconds is something she encounters "more often than you'd think. I've always been amazed at how much people can remember and recall."..It was enough for the jury. He was in the courtroom for the verdict and cried when he heard the word "guilty." Afterward, relatives of Watts' various victims came up to hug and thank him...Foy, who now lives in the Detroit suburb of Westland and stocks ATMs for a living, downplayed his role..."I was just an instrument," he said. "Helen and the rest of the victims are the ones that I believe guided me to them TVs those nights on those channels."...
 

20041118: Brief glimpse by eyewitness made serial killer's conviction possible MI Pontiac Serial Killer News
The murder conviction that will keep a serial killer behind bars was possible because of one man who caught a glimpse of Coral Eugene Watts in action. ..Joseph Foy said he locked eyes with Watts for a few seconds 25 years ago in a dimly lit alley at a distance of 75 feet -- and that was enough to burn the image into his mind. Foy's impressive recall, demonstrated by a sketch he helped an artist create a day after witnessing a murder and his immediate recognition of Watts 2 1/2 years later in TV footage, was the only direct evidence linking Watts to the killing for which he was convicted Wednesday. ..Foy says he didn't want to be a hero, but he became one to the families of Watts' victims. ..During the seven-day trial, Foy testified that he saw the slaying of 36-year-old Helen Dutcher from his back porch in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale on Dec. 1, 1979. He said he was drawn to his window by his dog's insistent barking and saw two people in an alley. He went outside to get a better look and saw a man bring his arm down in a slashing motion before Dutcher fell to the ground. Foy said the man turned toward him before getting into his car. .."We both locked glances and held it for what I thought was an eternity," Foy told the jury. ..Foy, now 47, says he has been seeing that face ever since. .."It was forged in my mind. It was a nightmare that wouldn't go away because ... (the case) was stonewalled every time," he said in a post-verdict interview. ..In 1982, Foy was sitting in front of the TV with the sound turned down and caught a glimpse of a man being led into a courtroom. He says he immediately recognized the man, who turned out to be Watts, as the killer from the alley. ..Foy contacted police again to tell them he now knew the killer's name. But the case never went anywhere because Watts already was slated to receive a lengthy prison sentence in Texas. ..Watts had been apprehended while attempting to kill two women in their apartment. He pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to commit murder and helped authorities solve a string of killings. In exchange, he was given immunity in 12 killings. ..Though many considered the 60-year sentence inadequate, Watts was expected to be in his 80s if he lived to see freedom. Oakland County prosecutors decided it wasn't worth pursuing a murder conviction in the Dutcher case. .."Back in '82, the last thing I was told was "Put it to bed,"' Foy said. ..But Foy said it wasn't that simple for him. .."It was an individual thing for me. I seen a life taken. I wanted justice for that life taken," he said. ..Over the years, he has had occasional nightmares about the killing. "I always see his eyes," he said. ..In 2002, Foy saw a story about Watts' impending release on TV. He e-mailed the show, but never got a response. ..Then in January, Foy again saw footage of Watts, along with an appeal from Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox for information that could help keep Watts in prison. Foy contacted Cox's office, and the decision was made to prosecute Watts for the Dutcher killing. ..The jury heard evidence about Watts' confession to other crimes. But only Foy linked him to the Dutcher slaying. As in his other killings, Watts left no physical evidence at the scene. ..To show that Foy always has been consistent in his statements, the prosecution brought in several witnesses, including police officers who took his statement in 1979 and spoke to him in 1982, his ex-wife, his current wife, and forensic artist Barbara Martin. ..Martin, who works for the Oakland County sheriff's department, had met with Foy a day after Dutcher's death to draw a composite sketch. At the trial, she testified that many features in the sketch were strikingly similar to a 1982 mug shot of Watts. ..The sketch had more facial hair than Watts did, but Martin said that was likely due to shadows. Watts' attorney Ronald Kaplovitz questioned Foy's ability to remember someone he saw so briefly in a darkened alley, and to retain that image for a quarter-century. ..But Martin said in a telephone interview that Foy's ability to register details after seeing someone for just a few seconds is something she encounters "more often than you'd think." .."I've always been amazed at how much people can remember and recall," she said. ..Martin said in her experience people who witness something traumatic are going to remember what they saw. .."You'll definitely retain that image for life if you see a dead body and a lot of blood," she said. ..But Marc Green, a Toronto-based cognitive psychologist, said the kind of recollection Foy claims to have is highly unusual. Had he been a juror, Green said he would have seen reasonable doubt in his identification. ..After a sketch is drawn, witnesses often remember that sketch, and not the person they saw, Green said. Identifying a man by footage of him being led into court is also prejudicial because there is an assumption that he is a criminal, he said. ..Green said Foy's strong conviction would not necessarily convince him either. .."The correlation between confidence and accuracy is extremely low," he said. ..But Foy's identification was enough for the jury. ..Foy was in the courtroom for the verdict and cried when he heard the word "guilty." Afterward, relatives of Watts' various victims came up to hug and thank him. ..But Foy, who today lives in the Detroit suburb of Westland and stocks ATMs for a living, downplayed his role. .."I was just an instrument," he said. "Helen and the rest of the victims are the ones that I believe guided me to them TVs those nights on those channels." .
 

20041117: Confessed serial killer found guilty in Michigan slaying MI Pontiac Serial Killer News
A confessed serial killer was found guilty Wednesday in a quarter-century old murder case that authorities believe was the best bet for keeping him off the streets. ..Coral Eugene Watts was convicted in the Dec. 1, 1979 stabbing death of Helen Dutcher, 36, in a Ferndale alley. Watts, 51, faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. ..Watts showed little reaction to the verdict. He looked around the courtroom as the jurors were polled about their decision and briefly looked down when they finished. ..A jury of seven women and five men in Oakland County Circuit Court deliberated about four hours before reaching its verdict. ..Watts in 1982 received immunity in 12 killings -- 11 in Texas and one in Michigan -- as part of a deal with Texas prosecutors. Authorities said he confessed to a 13th slaying in Texas, but he wasn't granted immunity in the case. ..He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of burglary with intent to murder and was expected to serve his full 60-year sentence. However, mandatory release laws and an appeals ruling lopped more than 35 years off his sentence, and he had been set to go free in April 2006. ..The Michigan attorney general's office said it would have been the first release of a serial killer in the United States. In an attempt to keep Watts behind bars, Michigan authorities charged Watts with first-degree murder in Dutcher's death. ..The relatives of various victims began whooping and clapping after Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Richard Kuhn left the courtroom. .."It's what we prayed for," said Peggy Dutcher, Helen Dutcher's sister-in-law and childhood friend. ..The jury heard extensive testimony about the murders and attempted murders in which Watts has immunity. Prosecutors said they believed that evidence, including tearful testimony from a Texas woman whose throat was slit by Watts, showed a common pattern that pointed toward Watts' guilt in the Dutcher slaying. ..Police suspected Watts in Dutcher's death for years but never obtained the evidence to charge him. He was not granted immunity in the slaying. ..The break came in January after Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox appealed for public help to solve the case on a national cable television show. ..In 1989, Michigan law enforcement officials said Watts was a suspect in the slayings of at least 18 women in the Detroit area. Watts, who told authorities that he would kill again if he ever got out, is a suspect in dozens of other deaths, officials have said. ..Nearly all the killings to which Watts confessed occurred in late 1981 and early 1982 after he moved to the Houston area from Michigan. Watts, a mechanic, targeted women he thought had "evil eyes" but never sexually assaulted them. ..Most victims were stabbed or strangled. One was drowned in an Austin swimming pool. Another was found hanging from a tree near Houston's Rice University. ..But aside from his detailed confession, prosecutors had no evidence of his involvement in the killings. There was little or no physical evidence left at the murder scenes. ..The families of Watts' suspected victims pushed for a plea bargain, saying they wanted to know what happened to their loved ones. Watts was put away without ever actually being convicted of or pleading guilty to murder. ..Besides the evidence about Watts' known crimes, the prosecution's case rested mainly on the testimony of one man, 47-year-old Joseph Foy. Foy said he witnessed Dutcher's killing from his porch after being drawn outside that night by his dog's insistent barking. ..Foy initially gave police a description of the killer and helped a sketch artist draw a composite. Two-and-a-half years later, he saw footage of Watts after his apprehension in Texas. Foy said he immediately knew the man he saw in the alley was Watts. ..After the verdict was announced, Foy said "Yes" and started crying. ..Earlier Wednesday, authorities in Kalamazoo charged Watts with open murder in the Oct. 30, 1974 stabbing death of 19-year old Gloria Steele, a Western Michigan University student. They promised to prosecute Watts regardless of the outcome of the Dutcher case. The Kalamazoo Cold Case Homicide Team reopened the Steele investigation in February 2003. .
 

20041117: Jury convicts serial killer MI Pontiac Serial Killer News
Case brought to keep confessed serial killer in prison..A confessed serial killer was convicted of murder Wednesday in case brought by prosecutors in a desperate bid to keep him from getting out of prison in less than two years...Coral Eugene Watts, 51, was found guilty of stabbing 36-year-old Helen Dutcher to death in a Detroit suburb in 1979. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole...Watts showed little reaction as the verdict was read. Victims and family members hugged and flashed smiles in the courtroom after Watts was led away in shackles..."It's what we prayed for," said Peggy Dutcher, Helen Dutcher's sister-in-law...Watts was due to be released from a Texas prison in April 2006...He had received immunity for 12 killings -- 11 in Texas and one in Michigan -- as part of a 1982 deal with Texas prosecutors that led to a 60-year sentence for burglary with intent to murder. But mandatory release laws and an appeals court ruling lopped more than 35 years off his sentence...In an urgent effort to keep Watts behind bars, Michigan's attorney general appealed for help in solving Dutcher's slaying in January. Police had suspected Watts in the case for years but never had the evidence to charge him...The attorney general's plea prompted a man who claimed he witnessed the attack from his porch to come forward...At the trial, the Watts' lawyers questioned witness Joseph Foy's ability to identify someone in a dark alley from 85 feet away. They also questioned Foy's memory after 25 years...In addition to Foy's testimony, the jury heard about the murders and attempted murders for which Watts was granted immunity, including tearful testimony from a Texas woman whose throat was slit by Watts. The judge in the case allowed the testimony to be introduced as evidence of a pattern on Watts' part...Nearly all the killings to which Watts confessed occurred in 1981 and 1982 after he moved to the Houston area from Michigan. Watts, a mechanic, targeted women he thought had "evil eyes."..Most victims were stabbed or strangled. One was drowned in an Austin, Texas, swimming pool. Another was found hanging from a tree near Houston's Rice University...But aside from his detailed confession, prosecutors said there was little or no physical evidence to connect him to the crime. The families of Watts' suspected victims pushed for a plea bargain because they saw it as the only way to find out what happened to their loved ones. Ultimately, he led police to three of the bodies..."I'm glad to see that finally we were able to pull a viable case together so that the victims' families would have their day in court -- even if only vicariously," said Assistant Michigan Attorney General Donna Pendergast...Law enforcement officials in Michigan, Texas and Canada suspect Watts in the slayings of dozens of other women. Watts has told them he would kill again if he ever got out of prison, authorities said...Earlier Wednesday, authorities in Kalamazoo, Michigan, charged Watts with murder in the 1974 stabbing death of 19-year old Gloria Steele, a Western Michigan University student. Kalamazoo police reopened the Steele investigation in 2003...
 

20041115: Women attacked by serial killer testify in Michigan murder trial MI Pontiac Serial Killer News
Several women who were attacked years ago by an admitted serial killer testified during his murder trial Monday as prosecutors tried to demonstrate a pattern of conduct on his part. ..One of the women, Julie Sanchez, recounted how Coral Eugene Watts attacked her on the side of a Texas highway in 1982 as she tried to change a flat tire on her car. ..Sanchez, whose hand shook as she raised it to be sworn in, said Watts slashed her throat to the point where she could not scream and then pushed her face against the car. .."I felt like he was pushing my nose all the way down inside my face," the 46-year-old Sanchez said during tearful testimony. ..Sanchez said Watts tried to stab her in the back, but she was protected by her heavy clothing. The attack stopped when Sanchez's husband, whose car she had been following, pulled up, she said. Sanchez testified her husband wanted to chase after Watts, who ran off, but she told him she would die if she did not receive immediate medical attention. ..Watts stopped running momentarily, turned around and looked at her, Sanchez said. .."He stopped completely and turned around and looked at me and smiled. He was laughing," she testified. ..Watts, who was looking at papers on the table and did not look up as Sanchez testified, is accused of stabbing 36-year-old Helen Dutcher 12 times behind a dry cleaners in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale on Dec. 1, 1979. The cold case was revived in an attempt to keep Watts from getting out of prison in 2006. ..Watts received immunity for 13 killings he confessed to in 1982 as part of a plea agreement in which he received a 60-year sentence for burglary with the intent to commit murder at a Houston apartment where Melinda Aguilar lived with her roommate, Lori Lister. Watts beat and choked Lister outside, then attempted to drown her in the apartment's bathtub after binding Aguilar with coat hangers when he found her in the apartment. Aguilar escaped, called the police and Watts was arrested. ..Both women testified Monday about the attack. ..Before the jury was brought in to hear Monday's testimony, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Richard Kuhn said one juror had been excused. Although Kuhn did not give a reason for the dismissal, Watts attorney Ronald Kaplovitz said the juror discussed the case with a friend -- a Wayne County prosecutor -- during a telephone conversation. ..Mandatory release laws and an appeals court ruling lopped more than 35 years off Watts' sentence, and he now is set to go free in April 2006. ..In an attempt to keep him behind bars, Michigan authorities charged Watts with first-degree murder in Dutcher's death. If convicted, Watts, 51, faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. ..The trial is expected to end this week. .
 

20041114: Race to stop serial killer walking free MI Pontiac Serial Killer News
Coral Watts is a self-confessed serial killer, who murdered at least 13 women and perhaps as many as 80. Yet he could become the first American mass murderer ever to be released from jail..An astonishing series of legal blunders means Watts, nicknamed the Sunday Morning Slasher, has a release date for April 2006. The authorities are powerless to deny him his freedom unless they have have him convicted of a new crime. An attempt to do that began last week...'If he gets out he will go back to doing what he does best - killing young women,' said Andy Kahan, a victims' rights specialist in Houston, Texas, where Watts, 51, found many of his victims...Even Watts's own lawyer admits his client is a mass murdering psychopath. He was caught in 1982 after student Lori Lister, then 19, struggled free when he tied her up while he ran a bath to drown her. 'He is pure evil,' said Professor Gerald Treece of the South Texas College of Law...However, bizarre circumstances surrounding Watts's arrest and conviction could lead to his release. When Watts was detained he was suspected of at least 26 other murders. But he had covered his tracks with precision, and little forensic evidence had been found on the bodies...Watts agreed to co-operate with police in exchange for being charged not with murder but with aggravated burglary, which carried a sentence of 60 years without parole. Under pressure from families desperate to know what had happened to their missing daughters, prosecu tors struck the deal in the belief that he would die in jail as an old man. Watts then gave a detailed confession to 13 killings, and led police to three bodies...However, an appeal court ruling in 1989 said a legal technicality meant his sentence would be reduced for good behaviour. Then Texas passed mandatory early release laws to cut the state's huge prison population. As Watts had never been convicted of a violent crime, his 60-year sentence had 34 years automatically lopped off. Now he must be released, and there can be no appeal by the police or Justice Department. 'He just benefited from a unique set of circumstances in Texas law,' said Treece...Many of his victims' families want to find a way of keeping Watts behind bars. He said himself in his original confession that he would kill again if released. 'He is a diabolical killer. He has warned what will happen with his own words,' Kahan said...Watts told the police he chose victims in the streets because of what he saw as their 'evil eyes'. Then he stabbed, strangled or drowned them, often on Sunday mornings, earning him his grim nickname...His confession was a catalogue of insane brutality. Watts, born into a poor family, developed a violent streak as a teenager. He drifted around the country, eventually ending up as a mechanic in Houston...It is widely believed he committed as many as 80 murders across America. He told a group of four interrogators they did not have enough fingers and toes between them to count the number of women he had killed...Keeping Watts off the streets now depends on a trial that began last week in Michigan. Publicity about his future release prompted police there to reopen old cases and see if Watts, who spent time in the city in the late Seventies, could be linked to any unsolved murders. If they can convict him then Watts could receive a new life sentence...A breakthrough came when Joseph Foy, who lives in Detroit, came forward to say he recognised Watts as a man he saw stab and kill Helen Dutcher, 36, in December, 1979, in the street outside his house. Houston officials, including Kahan, last week travelled to Detroit for the start of the trial...It has led to some surreal scenes...While Watt's lawyer Ronald Kaplovitz has prevented the jury being told about Watts's planned release, he was unable to stop his confession from being allowed as evidence...'No matter what I say or do, you're going to hate this guy,' Kaplovitz told the court last week, pointing to the figure of Watts, dressed entirely in black...The case has already produced some moments of unbearable tension in the courtroom. Foy has described how he 'locked glances' with Watts as the accused walked away from the murder scene. 'Did you notice anything about his eyes?' prosecutor Donna Pendergast asked Foy. 'Evil,' the witness replied. 'Does he look the same as he did then?' Pendergast continued. 'His eyes do,' Foy said...A verdict is expected this week. If the case fails and Watts is found not guilty, investigators are believed to be working on other cases to try to secure a fresh conviction. 'But the best result is simply to get him convicted here and now, and just keep him off the streets for good,' Kahan said...
 

20041112: Confessed serial killer's eyes at center of his murder trial MI Pontiac Serial Killer News
Confessed serial killer Coral Eugene Watts has said he chose his victims because of their "evil eyes." ..Now his own eyes are at the center of his first murder trial. ..Watts, 51, is accused of stabbing 36-year-old Helen Dutcher 12 times behind a dry cleaners in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale on Dec. 1, 1979. The cold case was revived in an attempt to keep Watts from getting out of prison in 2006. ..Joseph Foy, who says he saw Dutcher's killing from his back porch, testified earlier this week that he locked eyes with Watts afterward and would never forget it. ..On Friday, the sketch artist who drew the original composite based on Foy's description said the position of the eyes and nose in that sketch, as well as the shape of the ears and the cheeks, were strikingly similar to a mug shot of Watts taken 2 1/2 years later. ..Barbara Martin, the Oakland County forensic artist who met with Foy the day after the killing, said that, in general, the eyes and the nose are the most important features for a composite sketch. .."The eyes retain the character of a person pretty much throughout his life," Martin testified. ..Defense attorney Ronald Kaplovitz questioned how good Foy's description could be since he was not able to recall the color of the man's eyes. But Martin said eye color was not crucial for such sketches. ..Kaplovitz also pointed out that the man in the sketch had a full beard, while Watts' beard in his mug shot covered only his chin. ..Six weeks before the killing, Watts' facial hair was apparently even lighter. Watts was arrested in Southfield on Oct. 17 for disorderly conduct, and his booking photos show a tuft of hair on the lower lip, but no actual beard. ..Martin said shadows could cause someone to appear as if they have more facial hair than they do. ..Donna Pendergast, an assistant state attorney general, placed an overlay on Watts' mug shot to give him a fuller beard. She then asked Martin what similarities stood out. .."The whole midface," Martin replied, gesturing across her nose. ..On Wednesday, Foy testified that on the night of Dutcher's death, he saw a man and a woman in the alley of the dry cleaners. He said he stepped out on his porch and saw the man make a slashing motion before the woman dropped to the ground. ..The killer walked toward him to get to his car. .."We both locked glances and held it for what I thought was an eternity," he said. "He had no feeling in his eyes." ..Foy said that in 1982 he saw footage of Watts being led into a courtroom and recognized him as the man from the alley. .."In his eyes, I could tell it was him," Foy said. ..During the three days of testimony, Watts has sat calmly, often with his chin in his hand and sometimes with his shoes off under the table. As he was led out of the courtroom Friday, he swept his eyes over the rows of courtroom observers, including Dutcher's family and relatives of his known victims. ..Watts confessed in 1982 to 13 slayings but received immunity in those killings as part of a deal with Texas prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of burglary with intent to murder and was expected to serve his full 60-year sentence. However, mandatory release laws and an appeals ruling lopped more than 35 years off his sentence, and he now is set to go free in April 2006. ..In an attempt to keep him behind bars, Michigan authorities charged Watts with first-degree murder in Dutcher's death. If convicted, Watts, 51, faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. ..On Monday, the jury is to hear testimony about his crimes in Texas, including from victims that survived an attack. The trial is expected to end next week. .
 

20041110: Prosecutor tells jurors brutal slaying fit serial killer's pattern MI Pontiac Serial Killer News
Testimony resumes this afternoon in the suburban Detroit murder trial of confessed serial killer Coral Eugene Watts...In opening statements yesterday, an Oakland County prosecutor said Watts killed Helen Dutcher in cold blood in 1979...But Watts' lawyer told jurors the evidence they will hear is inconsistent, and said Watts should be acquitted -- though he confessed to 13 other killings...Watts confessed to those killings in 1982 in a deal with Texas prosecutors that unintentionally allowed for his release in 2006. But if he's convicted of first-degree murder in Dutcher's death, he'll face mandatory life imprisonment here...A medical examiner testified that Dutcher was stabbed 12 times in a Ferndale, Michigan, alley...

In its bid to put a confessed serial killer behind bars once and for all, the Michigan Attorney General's office is pinning its hopes on one man who claims he saw Coral Eugene Watts brutally stab a woman in a dark alley in 1979. ..The latest chapter in Watt's story opened Tuesday in an Oakland County Circuit Court, where counsel delivered opening statements in the first-degree murder trial. ...Watts faces a mandatory life sentence without parole if convicted in the multiple-stabbing death of Helen Dutcher, 36, on Dec. 1, 1979. ...The trial marks the first time Watts will face murder charges, despite sitting in a Texas prison since 1982 after confessing to killing 13 women in Texas and Michigan....When authorities caught Watts in the act of attempting to drown Houston student Lori Lister in 1982, he was a suspect in at least 26 other murders, but police lacked sufficient evidence to lay murder charges against him....They offered him immunity for the crimes he confessed to in exchange for a 60-year sentence for aggravated burglary....Watts successfully appealed the finding of an aggravating factor — the water he used to try to drown Lister — and was deemed a nonviolent felon, thus entitling him to receive three days' good-time credit for every day served in prison....His release date moved up to 2006. If released, he would be the only serial killer to ever be released from prison....Then, earlier this year, Michigan man Joseph Foy was watching the news program "The Abrams Report" when he saw Watts' mug shot. He claimed to recognize Watts as the man he saw lurking outside his home in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale, right off 8-Mile Road, minutes before he discovered Dutcher's body....In the courtroom packed with Dutcher's family members and those of Watts' Texas victims, First Criminal Assistant Attorney General Donna Pendergast emphasized the gory similarities between Dutcher's murder and the 13 slayings Watts confessed to in 1982...."You'll see the most gruesome images available of a woman, literally butchered alive, slashed, sliced, eviscerated, carved up and left to die in a pool of blood," Pendergast said....During her openings, Pendergast displayed pictures of Watts' victims in Texas as she read their names and their manner of death...."Helen Dutcher was chosen for murder not because she had a relationship with the defendant or any preexisting animosity, but simply because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Pendergast said...."The defendant's pattern and scheme was to target women who were alone, and Helen Dutcher fit the defendant's plan, just like the 13 other women he admitted to killing," she said....Watts' lawyer, Ronald Kaplovitz, acknowledged that his client is not a sympathetic character given his admitted acts, but still called on the 12-person panel to focus their attention on the facts at hand in this case...."No matter what I say or do, you're going to hate this guy," Kaplovitz said, pointing at the 51-year-old man seated at the defense table in a black sweater vest. "But I'm going to ask you to set aside that hatred, because it would be a perversion of justice if Mr. Watts were convicted in this case if the evidence shows in fact he did not commit this crime."...Kaplovitz had sought unsuccessfully to block evidence of Watts' brutal methods of strangling, stabbing or drowning his admitted victims without leaving any evidence to link him to the slayings... ."The evidence in this case clearly establishes he committed those murders and the reason he confessed to them is that he did them," Kaplovitz said. "But the issue here is: Did he kill Helen Dutcher? He confessed to those cases, but to this case, Coral Watts pleaded not guilty."..Kaplovitz was successful in barring the jury from hearing about the plea deal and Watts' impending release...
 

20041110: Key witness testifies in serial killer's Michigan trial MI Pontiac Serial Killer News
A man who says he witnessed a fatal stabbing in an alley 25 years ago testified Wednesday that he instantly recognized the assailant years later in footage of a confessed serial killer. ..Joseph Foy, 47, is the key witness in the case against Coral Eugene Watts, who in 1982 confessed to killing 13 women, but only now faces the prospect of his first murder conviction. ..Watts is accused of stabbing 36-year-old Helen Dutcher 12 times behind a dry cleaners in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale on Dec. 1, 1979. ..Defense attorney Ronald Kaplovitz questioned how Foy could identify someone so confidently from a fleeting encounter in a dimly lit alley. And he said Foy's previous claim that his memory has gotten sharper over time is illogical. ..Foy said he was drawn to his window that night by his barking dog, and saw a strange car and a man and a woman in the alley of the dry cleaners. He then went out to his porch and saw the man make a slashing motion before the woman fell to the ground. .."He just walked to his car in no hurry like nothing ever happened," Foy told the jury. "We both locked glances and held it for what I thought was an eternity." ..Watts confessed in 1982 to 13 slayings but received immunity in those killings as part of a deal with Texas prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of burglary with intent to murder and was expected to serve his full 60-year sentence. However, mandatory release laws and an appeals ruling lopped more than 35 years off his sentence, and he now is set to go free in April 2006. ..In an attempt to keep him behind bars, Michigan authorities have charged Watts with first-degree murder in Dutcher's death. If convicted, Watts, 51, faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. ..Foy said that after the man he saw drove away, he yelled to his wife to call the police. When an officer arrived, he told him what he saw and wrote a statement. The next day, he helped a sketch artist draw a composite of the suspect. ..Foy said he saw the man again in 1982 -- this time on television. As he was eating dinner in front of the TV with the sound turned down, he saw footage of a man being led into a courtroom. Foy said he yelled to his wife, "Paula, Paula, that's the man that killed that woman!" The footage was of Watts. .."It was his eyes," Foy said. "In his eyes, I could tell it was him." ..Foy said he contacted the Ferndale police again at that point. However, there was no further activity on the case. ..In January, Foy again saw a TV report on Watts, which included an appeal for information from Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox. Foy contacted Cox's office, and the Dutcher case was revived. ..Kaplovitz says Foy has changed his story over the years. Specifically, his initial statement to police did not mention seeing the slashing motion. ..Kaplovitz also contends that the alley was too dark for Foy to have gotten a good look at the killer. Foy insisted Wednesday that his side-door light was on that night, though at a previous hearing he said he wasn't sure. ..Although there were other lights in the vicinity, Kaplovitz said after Foy's testimony that the side-door light was the only one that would have illuminated the killer's face. ..During cross-examination, Kaplovitz asked Foy to read sworn testimony that he gave in January. At that time, Foy said he remembered what happened the night of Dutcher's death better today than he did immediately after. .."The week prior was a pretty bad time in my life," Foy read. He then paused, and when he continued, he was crying: "Two weeks prior, a very close friend was killed and the very next weekend my dad died." ..Andy Kahan, who works in the Houston crime victims assistance office and is attending Watts' trial with many relatives of victims, said Foy's testimony proved that the efforts he and the victims' families had put into raising awareness about Watts' impending release had paid off. He said the January TV report was one that their efforts made happen. .."I'm a believer in divine intervention. What are the odds of him clicking channels at that exact moment at that channel?" Kahan said. "Only a conviction would make me happier." ..The trial, which began Monday, resumes Friday and is expected to last about two weeks or less. .
 

20041108: Jury selected for trial of admitted serial killer MI Pontiac Serial Killer News
A jury was selected Monday to hear a murder trial for a man who confessed to 13 slayings in the early 1980s but received a sentence that will release him from prison in two years. ..Coral Eugene Watts, 51, is charged with the murder of a 14th woman, Helen Dutcher, who was stabbed to death in 1979. If convicted, Watts faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. ..Watts confessed to the other killings in 1982 in a deal with Texas prosecutors that allowed him to plead guilty to a lesser charge of burglary with intent to murder if he helped officials solve his crimes. He is set to be freed in April 2006. ..A jury of 14 -- two of whom will be designated as alternates at the conclusion of testimony -- was selected Monday in Oakland County Circuit Court. The six men and eight women were expected to hear opening arguments Monday afternoon. The trial is expected to be over in two weeks or less. ..A pool of about 60 jurors was whittled down to 49 after brief one-on-one interviews to determine how much they knew about the case. Afterward, jury selection proceeded in open court with Watts present. ..Defense attorney Ronald Kaplovitz informed the potential jurors of Watts' confession to the 13 killings and asked whether they would be able to separate that from the Dutcher case. .."The issue in this case is not whether he killed those 13 people. The issue in this case is: On Dec. 1, 1979, did he kill Helen Dutcher," Kaplovitz told the potential jurors. ..Foreshadowing another issue in the trial, Donna Pendergast, the assistant state attorney general leading the prosecution team, asked potential jurors whether they found it plausible that a person who witnessed an event might give varying levels of detail when recounting what happened. She also suggested a witness might remember more details after the initial shock had subsided. ..The issues that Pendergast raised likely are to come up with the testimony of Joseph Foy, who resurfaced in January after he saw Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox on television appealing for help in solving the Dutcher case. ..Foy says he saw the killing from his back porch in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale. .
 

20041105: Confessed serial killer could be free 2006 MI Pontiac Serial Killer News
Confessed serial killer could walk the streets again, unless Michigan can put him away..When Coral Eugene Watts stood to hear his punishment after confessing to the vicious, random slayings of 13 women, the judge knew the prison sentence he was about to hand down was inadequate. ..Sixty years was the most Watts could get, based on the evidence available to prosecutors, Texas Judge Doug Shaver told him in 1982. "Sad to say," he added. ..The sentence turned out to be even less than the judge imagined. ..An appeals court ruling knocked decades off Watts' term. And instead of being locked up until his 80s, he could be back on the streets just a year and a half from now -- unless the state of Michigan can put him away for good in a murder trial set to begin on Monday. ..Prosecutors are rushing to avoid what the Michigan attorney general's office says would be the first release of a serial killer in the United States. .."He is a cold-blooded killing machine who randomly preyed on women," said Andy Kahan of the Houston crime victims assistance office. "I don't think there is any doubt in anybody's mind that if he is released, he will resume his carnage against humanity." ..Nearly all the killings to which Watts confessed occurred in late 1981 and early 1982 after he moved to the Houston area from Michigan. Watts, a mechanic, targeted women he thought had "evil eyes" but never sexually assaulted them. ..He was captured in 1982 after he choked and beat 19-year-old Lori Lister in a parking lot, then dragged her to her apartment and tried to drown her in the bathtub. He bound her roommate with wire hangers, but she escaped and called police. ..The slayings Watts confessed to -- 12 in Texas and one in Michigan -- were as varied as they were grisly. Most victims were stabbed or strangled. One was drowned in an Austin swimming pool. Another was found hanging from a tree near Houston's Rice University. Watts told police that he strangled a Houston woman and then held her head in a flowerpot full of water to make sure she was dead. ..But aside from his detailed confession, prosecutors had no evidence of his involvement in the killings. The killer wore a hood, picked his victims entirely at random, struck quickly and got away cleanly, leaving little or no physical evidence. In one case, authorities did not even realize a homicide had been committed; they thought they were looking at an ordinary drowning. ..The families of Watts' suspected victims pushed for a plea bargain, saying they wanted to know what happened to their loved ones. So prosecutors made a deal: They let him plead guilty to just one offense -- burglary with the intent to commit murder -- and granted him immunity for the murders so that he would cooperate. Ultimately he led police to three of the bodies. ..The confessed serial killer was put away without ever actually being convicted of or pleading guilty to murder. ..In sentencing Watts, Shaver ruled that he had used a deadly weapon -- the bathtub filled with water -- in an attempt to kill Lister. The deadly-weapon finding meant that Watts had to serve his full 60-year sentence, without time off for good behavior. He would either die behind bars or be an old man when he got out. ..But in 1989, an appeals court ruled that Watts had not been properly notified of the finding, and was thus entitled to good-behavior credit. ..The ruling, combined with mandatory release laws that had been in place at the time to relieve prison overcrowding, lopped more than 35 years off his sentence. He is set to be released in April 2006 at age 52. .."This is a guy who just happened to hit the legal system in Texas at a strange time," said Gerald Treece, an associate dean at South Texas College of Law. ..When victims' families realized a few years ago that Watts was going to get out, they put together petitions and pleaded with authorities to do something to keep him behind bars. Investigators in Michigan and Texas scoured old case files. ..Earlier this year, a Michigan man who saw a TV report on the Watts case came forward to say he saw Watts struggle with 36-year-old Helen Mae Dutcher, who was stabbed 12 times in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale in 1979. Next week, Watts will go on trial in Pontiac, Mich. ..Although Watts did not confess to the Dutcher slaying, the judge plans to admit his confession in the other murders as evidence of a pattern of behavior. If Watts is found guilty, he will get an automatic life sentence without parole. ..Watts' attorney, Ronald Kaplovitz, questions the witness' 25-year-old identification of Watts and said he does not believe prosecutors have any scientific evidence. But he conceded Watts' confession will be hard to counteract. .."It certainly is very damaging to hear all this evidence about all of these other similar crimes he supposedly did," Kaplovitz said. ..Kahan, of the crime victims office in Texas, said the confession is critical because Watts has been adept at leaving little evidence behind. .."That is how good this guy was," Kahan said. "We are not exactly known for our leniency down here." .
 

20041103: Serial killer's murder trial to be televised MI Pontiac Serial Killer News
A confessed serial killer's trial in a 1979 slaying will be televised, a court official said. ..Coral Eugene Watts faces trial next week in the Dec. 1, 1979 stabbing death of Helen Dutcher in Ferndale. Watts has confessed to killing 13 women, but the 36-year-old Detroit woman was not one of them. ..Several television programs requested courtroom access to the trial before Oakland County Circuit Judge Richard Kuhn. .."There will be two cameras in the courtroom," Gavin Routt, a clerk for Kuhn, told The Detroit News for a Wednesday story. "One of them will be Court TV, which may broadcast live." ..The Court TV camera will feed other national news programs. A second camera will be used by A&E Television's "Cold Case Files," Routt said. ..Watts, 50, an Inkster native, confessed in 1982 to killing 12 women in Texas and one in Michigan. But a plea bargain reached that year allowed him to plead guilty to burglary in exchange for a 60-year sentence and confessions in the 13 deaths. ..Good behavior credits cut Watts' sentence by more than half, and he is scheduled to walk out of a Texas prison in 2006. Michigan authorities are trying to prevent Watts' release by trying him in the Dutcher killing. ..If convicted of first-degree murder, he faces life in prison without parole. .."I want him tried based on the facts of this case that is before the jury, not tried based on what happened in other events," said Watts' attorney, Ronald Kaplovitz. ..Jury selection begins Monday. ..
 

20041103: Serial killer Watt's Michigan trial will be televised MI Pontiac Serial Killer News
A confessed serial killer's trial in a 1979 slaying will be televised, a court official said. ..Coral Eugene Watts faces trial next week in the Dec. 1, 1979, stabbing death of Helen Dutcher in Ferndale. Watts has confessed to killing 13 women, most of them in Texas, but Dutcher, a 36-year-old Detroit woman, was not one of them...Several television programs requested courtroom access to the trial before Oakland County Circuit Judge Richard Kuhn..."There will be two cameras in the courtroom," said Gavin Routt, a clerk for Kuhn. "One of them will be Court TV, which may broadcast live."..The Court TV camera will feed other national news programs. A second camera will be used by A&E Television's Cold Case Files, Routt said...Watts, 50, an Inkster native, confessed in 1982 to killing 12 women in Texas and one in Michigan. But a plea bargain allowed him to plead guilty to burglary in exchange for a 60-year sentence and confessions in the 13 deaths...Good-behavior credits cut Watts' sentence by more than half, and he is scheduled to walk out of a Texas prison in 2006. Michigan authorities are trying to prevent Watts' release by trying him in the Dutcher killing...If convicted of first-degree murder, he faces life in prison without parole..."I want him tried based on the facts of this case that is before the jury, not tried based on ... other events," said Watts' attorney, Ronald Kaplovitz...Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday...
 

20041008: Alleged Serial Killer's Previous Acts Admissible in Court MI Lansing Serial Killer News
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox Announces Coral Watts Update..Attorney General Mike Cox announced today that an alleged killer's previous acts will be admissible in court when the trial begins in November of this year. This morning, from the Oakland County Circuit Court, Judge Richard Kuhn issued his opinion on a 404(b) motion where he ruled in favor of the State of Michigan's assertion that his previous bad acts and pattern of killing be admissible evidence during the trial for the purposes of showing Coral Watts' motive and intent..."Today is a major step forward in bringing a confessed serial killer to justice," Attorney General Mike Cox said. "We are pleased the Judge recognized the consistency and relevance of Watts' previous acts and look forward to presenting them in the trial."..Watts' trial is scheduled to begin in November. In today's hearing, the judge released an order admitting evidence of Watts' other acts of murder. The evidence includes 12 murders and 5 violent assaults that Watts committed. This evidence will be introduced through the admissions that Watts made to Texas law enforcement officials and through the live testimony of some of his surviving victims. The Attorney General intends to introduce the evidence to establish Watts' motive and plan in the stealth murder of Helen Dutcher in 1979...Watts is currently serving a 60-year sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated burglary in 1982. When pleading in 1982, Watts confessed to Texas and Michigan authorities to killing 13 women, including two victims from Michigan. In addition, Watts is suspected of 26 murders, including six in Michigan and two in Windsor, and has claimed to have killed up to 100 victims...Through unusual circumstances, credits for good behavior while in jail, and automatic sentence reductions in the Texas parole system, Watts is scheduled to be released in May 2006. Law enforcement officials in Michigan and Texas have been examining more than 100 murder cases during the last 20 years in an attempt to prevent Watts from being the first serial killer in US history to be released from prison. ....
 

20040423: Houston serial killer sent to Michigan for trial MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News

Confessed serial killer Coral Eugene WATTS set to be released from a Texas prison in two years was arraigned today in Michigan on a first-degree murder charge stemming from the 1979 stabbing death of a Detroit woman. An innocent plea was entered on behalf of Coral Eugene WATTS during the hearing in 43rd District Court. WATTS will be held without bond ahead of his preliminary examination, set for Thursday.
WATTS left Texas Thursday to face the murder charge in Michigan.

WATTS, 50, is charged with killing Helen DUTCHER in Ferndale, a Detroit suburb, in 1979. He is scheduled to enter a plea today in an Oakland County court. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

WATTS had been serving a 60-year sentence in Texas for aggravated burglary, but after a Houston Chronicle story revealed in 2002 that he was up for release in 2006, Michigan authorities formed a task force to investigate possible cases against him.
He was charged with DUTCHER's slaying in March after a witness to the killing came forward in response to an appearance by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox on a national cable TV show.
WATTS was arrested in Houston in 1982 and told authorities he had killed 13 women in Texas. He was arrested while trying to drown a woman in a bathtub, police said.
With no physical evidence in the slayings, police and Harris County prosecutors allowed WATTS to plead guilty to aggravated burglary as part of a plea bargain. He provided information and confessed to the killings in return for immunity.
WATTS was sentenced to 60 years, but the sentence was cut short because he was eligible for "good time," giving him credit for three days for every day served. He was eligible for release in 2006.

A former Detroit resident, he is suspected of killing three women in Ann Arbor and at least 18 in the Detroit area. He was arrested in the fatal 1974 stabbing of Western Michigan University student Gloria STEELE, 19, but the charges were dropped for lack of evidence.
WATTS also could face charges in Waller County in the death of Emily LAQUA, 14.
The girl was found in Waller County, just over the Harris County line, and was mistakenly considered one of the Harris County cases.

 

20040415: Confessed serial killer Eugene Watts waives extradition AL Huntsville Serial Killer News
A serial killer has agreed to be taken from Texas to Michigan to face prosecution in a 1979 slaying.
Coral Eugene WATTS is set to be released from a Texas prison in 2006 -- when he's 52.
A judge in Huntsville ruled WATTS will be allowed to finish medical treatment in Texas, where the inmate recently had surgery. Details weren't released.
He could be returned to Michigan in a few days.
WATTS moved to Texas in 1981.
Houston police caught up with WATTS in 1982 and he confessed to killing 13 women.
Watts received immunity for the slayings -- in exchange for a 60-year sentence for burglary with intent to commit murder.
An appeal overturned a deadly weapon finding in the case -- allowing earlier release.
Michigan prosecutors in March announced a murder charge was filed against WATTS over the killing of Helen DUTCHER in Ferndale.
 

20040304: 'Sunday Morning Slasher' Faces Charges In Ferndale Murder MI Kalamazoo Serial Killer News
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox is moving forward to prosecute a confessed serial killer known as the Sunday Morning Slasher.
Local authorities hope to keep Coral Eugene Watts from being released from prison.
Under an old law, Watts has been accumulating time off for good behavior and is scheduled to be released in May 2006.
Cox announced Thursday that charges were filed against Watts in the murder of 36-year-old Helen Dutcher in an alley outside a Ferndale dry cleaners on Dec. 1, 1979.
"He grabbed her. She fought. He then stabbed and slashed her 12 different times in her neck and back. He then fled the scene in a car. This man is a confessed killing machine who has promised to kill again," said Cox. Police say Watts, an Inkster native, confessed to killing 22 people in Michigan, Windsor, Ontario and Texas.
Watts apparently has told investigators he would kill again in Detroit after he's released.
"It is rare when a lawyer or prosecutor can say with certainty that initiating a case or filing charges in a prosecution can save lives. Today, I can," said Cox.
Watts will be extradited to Michigan sometime next month where he will stand before a judge at the Oakland County Circuit Court.
 

20060830: Serial Killer Nurse Donates Kidney To Ex-Girlfriend's Brother NJ Newark Serial Killer News
A serial killer nurse who admitted killing 29 patients donates one of his kidneys to the brother of an ex-girlfriend. Charles Cullen had threatened to skip his sentencing hearing if he was not permitted to be the donor. In February, a judge approved Cullen's removal from prison for the operation. Cullen's public defender, Johnnie Mask, says the kidney went to Ernie Peckham, 37, of Rocky Point, New York. Mask tells The Associated Press, "They have not had a chance to speak" since the operations on Aug. 20. One day after surgery, Cullen went back to New Jersey State Prison. Peckham did not return to his Long Island home for a few days. The New York Daily News reports Peckham is married with four children. He is a metalworker and Cub Scout leader who was an Army reservist. Peckham told The Village Beacon Record that his kidneys began failing after a cut on his finger became a strep infection. Cullen confessed to using drug overdoses to kill 29 patients at nursing homes and hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He was sentenced to 18 life terms in prison.
 

20060822: Serial Killer Back in Prison after Surgery PA Allentown Serial Killer News
Serial killer Charles Cullen is back in prison tonight, recovering from his recent kidney donation. Cullen had the surgery on Saturday. The kidney went to a relative of one of Cullen's friends. Last year, Cullen said he would skip his sentencing unless he was allowed to donate. A judge agreed to allow the transplant and Cullen appeared before the victims' families. He's serving 18 consecutive life sentences in solitary confinement at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.
 

20060321: Serial Killer Nurse May Donate A Kidney NJ Newark Serial Killer News
A judge clears the way for New Jersey's worst serial killer to donate a kidney. If Charles Cullen and his doctors meet certain conditions, he may undergo an operation to remove one of his kidneys. The Associated Press reports the organ would then go to the relative of a friend. Cullen admitted to killing 29 patients in nursing homes and hospitals throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Prosecutors agreed to spare him from the death penalty if he identified patients who had been given lethal drug overdoses. The judge ordered that the operation must be paid for by the recipient's insurance company. The state's medical examiners must also certify the doctors prior to the procedure.
 

20060320: Judge allows serial killer to donate kidney NJ Newark Serial Killer News

A United States judge has agreed to allow New Jersey's worst serial killer to donate a kidney, but the killer and his doctors have to meet conditions.

Judge Paul Armstrong did not say when Charles Cullen might undergo the operation to remove one of his kidneys to be transplanted into the relative of a friend.

Cullen has admitted killing 29 patients with drug overdoses at nursing homes and hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in one of the worst murder sprees ever discovered in the US health care system. He has been sentenced to 18 life terms.

The judge's order, signed on Thursday, stipulates that all operation costs must be paid by the recipient's insurer.
 
Also, the surgery to remove Cullen's kidney must happen in New Jersey at a hospital certified by the state Department of Corrections, and the doctors who perform the operation must be certified by the state Board of Medical Examiners.

Cullen, 46, had tried for four months to reach an agreement with prosecutors to win permission for the donation.

His lawyer, Johnnie Mask, said the requirements made him "suspicious that someone in the Department of Corrections or at the attorney-general's office does not want this to happen".

New Jersey Attorney General's Office spokesman John Hagerty said the requirements reflect the fact that they are for "a serial killer who is not free to travel willy-nilly".

Cullen claimed to have killed 40 patients over a 16-year nursing career, and has said he killed out of mercy. Not all of his victims, however, were old or very sick.

 

20060311: Over Killer's Loud Objections, He Gets 6 More Life Terms PA Allentown Serial Killer News
Charles Cullen, a former nurse who committed one of the worst murder sprees in the United States health care system, was gagged with a cloth and duct tape at a sentencing hearing Friday after he began loudly repeating, "Your honor, you need to step down." Mr. Cullen had maintained almost complete silence every time he appeared in court, steadfastly refusing to explain why he killed at least 29 patients in two states. During an emotional sentencing hearing last week in New Jersey, he sat quietly with his eyes closed as victims' families said he was a monster and called him "garbage." But on Friday, facing another round of sentencing, this time for his murders in Pennsylvania, he infuriated the relatives of some of his victims by repeating his bizarre chant hundreds of times over 30 minutes, during which attempts to muffle him proved unsuccessful. "I feel very cheated," said Walter Henne, a relative who showed up in court to address Mr. Cullen and had to raise his voice to be heard over him. "Our last trump card was taken away from us by the childish behavior of Mr. Cullen." A judge ignored Cullen's outbursts and gave him six more life sentences. Mr. Cullen, who was sentenced last week to 11 consecutive life terms in New Jersey, administered lethal overdoses to seven patients in Pennsylvania, and tried to kill three others. Mr. Cullen had tried to avoid showing up at his sentencing hearings in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. On Friday, he told President Judge William Platt of Lehigh County that he was upset that the judge had said in a newspaper article that he was inclined to make Mr. Cullen show up at sentencing. Mr. Cullen then began repeating the statement and refused to stop. Sheriff's deputies wrapped a white cloth around Cullen's mouth, but that did little to muffle him. They added two pieces of duct tape and tried repeatedly to tighten the gag, but Mr. Cullen still managed to drown out some of the relatives and friends who were there to tell him the impact the murders had had on their lives. "We think you are a total waste of human flesh," Mr. Henne told Mr. Cullen on behalf of the family of his mother-in-law, Irene Krapf. It was not clear whether Mr. Cullen heard a word he said.
 

20060310: NJ serial killer to be sentenced in Pennsylvania PA Allentown Serial Killer News
A week ago, a former nurse who killed at least 29 patients was sent to prison for the rest of his life and confronted by his victims' relatives in New Jersey. On Friday, Charles Cullen was set to sentenced in Pennsylvania, where he was expected to again face relatives of patients he killed. Cullen, 46, pleaded guilty to 29 murders and six attempted murders in both states. He escaped the death penalty after agreeing to help prosecutors in seven counties identify patients to whom he had given lethal drug overdoses. He will serve his sentence in New Jersey. Cullen administered overdoses to seven patients at nursing homes and hospitals in Lehigh and Northampton counties, and tried to kill three others in one of the worst murder sprees ever discovered in the U.S. health care system. Cullen was to be sentenced Friday in Northampton County for the 1998 murder of 78-year-old Ottomar Schramm at Easton Hospital. Although he does not have to be present at that hearing, he has been ordered to attend his sentencing a few hours later in Allentown in Lehigh County, where he was expected to again come face-to-face with his victims' families. Last week, relatives of the 22 New Jersey victims confronted Cullen after he received 11 consecutive life terms, calling him a "monster" and "vermin." Cullen said nothing, his eyes closed. Cullen, who claims to have slain 40 patients over a 16-year nursing career, has said he killed out of mercy. Many of his victims were old and very sick. But the judge who sentenced Cullen in New Jersey told him he "betrayed the ancient foundations of the healing professions." Cullen was arrested in December 2003 after Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, N.J., notified prosecutors about questionable lab results involving patients under his care. The case prompted lawmakers in both states to pass legislation protecting hospitals and nursing homes from legal action when reporting disciplinary actions taken against employees.
 

20060304: How can a serial killer escape the death penalty? NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

A MALE nurse who admits killing up to forty patients with lethal injections has been spared a similar fate through an extraordinary plea bargain in which he pledged to help to identify his victims.

Charles Cullen, 46, a loner with a history of depression and suicide attempts, will escape the death penalty in return for pleading guilty to at least twenty-nine murders and co-operating with investigators looking into other suspicious deaths.

Cullen says that he poisoned up to forty people with hard to-detect medications — usually the heart drug digoxin — during a 16-year career working night shifts at ten nursing homes and hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

He has told authorities, however, that he cannot remember the names of four of his victims and that he randomly injected insulin into intravenous medical bags without knowing which patient they were for.

Prosecutors in all seven counties where he worked have agreed to spare his life in return for his help in identifying all those he killed.

As the families of victims harangued him as a “monster”, “one pathetic little man”, and “Satan’s son”, Cullen was sentenced on Thursday to 11 consecutive life terms for 22 murders and 3 attempted murders in Somerset County, New Jersey. That meant that it would be 397 years before he became eligible for parole.

He is due to be sentenced next Friday for seven more murders and three attempted murders in Pennsylvania.

Investigations remain open in two other New Jersey counties, complicated by the destruction of medical records and the uncertainty of Cullen’s memory.

Cullen is one of the worst serial killers discovered inside America’s health-care system, but he is not alone. Since 1975 there have been about twenty cases of medical personnel involved in the deaths of patients, including a notorious 1987 case in which Donald Harvey, a nurse, was sentenced to life in prison for killing at least thirty-four patients in Ohio and Kentucky.

Cullen was fired from five nursing jobs and resigned from two others amid questions about his conduct but he always found another job, partly because hospitals kept quiet to avoid being sued.

He went on a murder spree in December 2003, killing 13 patients in less than a year at the Somerset Medical Centre in New Jersey. He was caught when hospital officials discovered unusually high levels of digoxin in the victims.

He told police after his arrest that he had targeted “very sick” patients for what he described as mercy killings.

The facts contradicted his claim. His youngest victim was a 21-year-old student named Michael Strenko, who had been admitted to hospital for a non-fatal blood disorder that required doctors to remove his spleen.

Cullen also killed a 22-year-old car crash victim, Matthew Mattern, who was in hospital with severe burns.

 

20060303: Serial killer nurse gets 11 life terms for killing patients NJ Somerville Serial Killer News
 

A nurse who killed at least 29 patients was sent to prison for the rest of his life Thursday after his victims' loved ones angrily branded him ''vermin,'' ''garbage'' and a ''monster'' who ruined lives and shattered their faith in the medical profession.

Charles Cullen escaped the death penalty after making a deal with prosecutors to tell them which patients he killed with hard-to-detect drug injections.

Cullen, 46, pleaded guilty to murdering 22 people in New Jersey and trying to kill three others. He will be sentenced later for seven murders and three attempted murders in Pennsylvania. He has claimed to have killed up to 40 people during a career that spanned 16 years and 10 nursing homes and hospitals.

He received 11 consecutive life terms at a tense hearing in which he came face-to-face with his victims' families for the first time. Wearing a bulletproof vest under his sweater, Cullen sat quietly as relatives wept and yelled at him from a lectern about 15 feet away. Some said they wished Cullen could die as his victims did, by lethal injection.

''I want you to die tomorrow so that you can meet God tomorrow because guess what? There ain't no door out of hell, baby,'' said Debra Yetter Medina, the granddaughter of victim Mary Natoli.

 

20060302: Killer nurse gets 11 life sentences NJ Somerville Serial Killer News
On the day New Jersey's most prolific serial killer received 11 consecutive life sentences, family members of his victims gave the former nurse a verbal lashing in court.

Some had waited years, and defendant Charles Cullen had filed court papers trying to avoid the confrontation.

One by one, for nearly four hours, two dozen relatives of the dead told a New Jersey judge what Cullen had taken from them.

Some called Cullen names -- "Satan's son" or "monster" -- and told him to "burn in hell." Others simply remembered their lost loved ones.

Judge Paul W. Armstrong then handed down 11 consecutive life sentences. Parole is out of the question, since Cullen, 46, will not be eligible until he has served 397 years.

Cullen has pleaded guilty to committing 22 murders in New Jersey and seven in Pennsylvania. He also admitted attempting to murder six people.

Deaths not mercy killings

Cullen administered lethal doses of medication to patients under his care in nursing homes and medical facilities. He claimed at one point that he was an angel of mercy trying to end his patients' suffering.

But the judge rejected that notion. He said the court "would not countenance the characterization of these crimes as acts of human compassion."

Cullen said nothing during the hearing, sitting beside his attorney with his hands in his lap and his eyes lowered. His lack of visible emotion seemed to enrage some relatives of his victims.

They had plenty to say.

Dolores Stasienko called Cullen a monster for killing her father, Jack Toto, whom she described as a hard-working farmer, mechanic and war veteran.

"Burn in hell, Mr. Cullen, for all eternity," she said.

"Am I boring you?" asked Deborah Yetter-Medina, whose grandmother was killed. "Look at me," she demanded.

"Yes, I was the woman who coined the phrase 'Satan's son,'" she said. "You are Satan's son." Later, she told Cullen: "There ain't no doors out of hell, babe."

Richard Stoecker, whose mother, Eleanor, also was a victim, told Cullen: "Maybe you thought you could play God that day by injecting her, but she planned on living, she was a fighter."

As many as 40 victims

As part of his plea agreement, Cullen has been working with law enforcement officials to identify additional victims. He originally told authorities he killed up to 40 patients during the course of his 16-year nursing career.

Last month, when a deal to allow Cullen to donate a kidney to a friend fell through, he filed court papers seeking to waive his appearance at sentencing. (Full story)

The move outraged victim family members, some of whom have said addressing Cullen is an important part of their grieving process.

"He has to hear that we're human beings and that our father, son, mother, whoever, were human beings," said John Shanagher, whose father, Jack, was killed by Cullen. "Hopefully it will give us some sense of justice that it's, after all this time, finally done."

The judge ruled Cullen had to be present for victim impact statments and sentencing. Cullen will be allowed to donate his kidney now that he has been sentenced.

 

20060224: Serial killer must face victims' kin NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

Judge rules that killer nurse can't skip sentencing hearing

Serial killer Charles Cullen must listen to statements by relatives of his victims when he is sentenced for 22 murders, a New Jersey judge ruled Friday.

Cullen, a former nurse, had asked the court to waive his appearance at the sentencing March 2.

The move outraged victims' family members, some of whom said addressing Cullen is an important part of their grieving process.

"He has to hear that we're human beings and that our father, son, mother, whoever, were human beings," said John Shanagher, whose father, Jack, was killed by Cullen.

"Hopefully it will give us some sense of justice that it's, after all this time, finally done," he added.

Superior Court Judge Paul W. Armstrong also ruled Friday that Cullen will be allowed to donate a kidney to a friend after he is sentenced.

Where the organ will be harvested remains an issue. Cullen wants to have the operation performed in New York. New Jersey officials say it must be done in that state.

Cullen has pleaded guilty to murdering 29 hospital patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and attempting to murder six others, with drug injections.

As part of his plea agreement, he has been working with law enforcement officials to identify additional victims. He originally told authorities he had killed up to 40 patients in the course of his 16-year nursing career.

Armstrong ruled Friday that Cullen "possesses no fundamental right" by law to be absent from his sentencing, when the court will hear statements by the victims' families.

Cullen had withdrawn his request, but the judge went ahead with a ruling to prevent Cullen from changing his mind later.

 

20060217: Again, a Serial Killer Plans to Skip His Own Sentencing NJ PA Serial Killer News

A carefully constructed deal between the authorities and the convicted serial killer Charles Cullen to allow him to donate a kidney to a friend in exchange for showing up at his own sentencing has fallen apart, his lawyer said yesterday.

The authorities had hoped this month to sentence Mr. Cullen, a former nurse who has confessed to murdering up to 40 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Many relatives of his victims have been waiting for the day they can face him in court.

But that day, once again, seems far off. At a meeting yesterday, New Jersey authorities and Mr. Cullen's lawyer could not agree on the specifics of the kidney donation, and Mr. Cullen will now fight to skip his sentencing, his lawyer, Johnnie Mask, said.

"There is no deal now," Mr. Mask said. "We're nowhere."

Under New Jersey legal procedures, defendants can apply to skip their sentencing. Mr. Cullen initially indicated he would do this, provoking the ire of prosecutors and relatives of his victims.

But in December, Peter C. Harvey, then New Jersey's attorney general, announced that he had worked out a plan in which Mr. Cullen could donate his kidney if he agreed to come to his sentencing first. A memorandum of understanding was signed, and a transplant team at Stony Brook University Hospital on Long Island, where Mr. Cullen's friend is a patient, agreed to do the surgery.

But Mr. Harvey left office in January, after New Jersey's new governor, Jon S. Corzine was sworn in. Officials at the attorney general's office and in the Corrections Department have now decided that Mr. Cullen cannot leave the state for the kidney operation because New Jersey officials do not have the authority to provide security in New York.

Mr. Mask said that prosecutors had yet to come up with a viable plan for the operation to be done in New Jersey. Until they do, Mr. Cullen will do everything in his power, including filing numerous appeals, to avoid his sentencing, he said.

"We're not going to give up what little leverage we have until we know this kidney operation is going to happen," Mr. Mask said. State officials, he said, "have been throwing up roadblocks ever since Harvey left."

John Hagerty, a spokesman at the attorney general's office, said that Mr. Cullen's sentencing has been scheduled for March 2 but that there are issues that could delay that. A presentencing hearing has been set for next week.

Mr. Hagerty said state officials "continue to work with local prosecutors so the sentencing can proceed."

 

20060113: Serial Killer Using Loophole That Delays His Sentencing NJ Newark Serial Killer News

First, he wrangled a way to avoid the death penalty, even though he confessed to murdering up to 40 people. Then, he tried to dictate the terms of his final court appearance. Now, he is refusing to cooperate.

Apparently, Charles Cullen, a New Jersey nurse who confessed to sneaking into hospital rooms late at night and injecting patient after patient with deadly amounts of drugs, is trying to exert his last bits of leverage from a solo cell in the Somerset County jail before he is sent away for life.

His maneuvering is infuriating the families of his victims and delaying their long-awaited rendezvous in court. It is also making a strange case even stranger, partly because of what was, until now, a little-known legal wrinkle in New Jersey that allows defendants to skip their sentencing.

"Can't we just get this over with?" said Lucille Gall, whose brother Mr. Cullen has admitted killing. "This is a sick little game he's playing."

Most of the prosecutors in the case seem unfazed or, at least, they talk that way.

"We don't need him anymore," said Wayne J. Forrest, prosecutor for Somerset County, N.J., where Mr. Cullen confessed to 13 murders. "We've completed our investigation. We got our guilty pleas. We're done."

John Morganelli, district attorney for Northampton County, Pa., where Mr. Cullen admitted killing one patient, said, "I could go to court right now and get a conviction, with or without his cooperation."

But in Essex County, it is a different story. Mr. Cullen told investigators he thinks he killed five patients at a hospital near Newark. The problem is, he does not remember whom. Until recently, he had been meeting regularly with Essex investigators, studying old charts, peering into old photos, trying to jog his memory.

So far, Mr. Cullen, 45, has pleaded guilty to murdering 29 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania medical facilities. Most of his victims were old and sick.

After he was arrested in 2003, he agreed to help investigators identify all of his victims - he estimated there were up to 40 - in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

But the deal began to fray last month, when Mr. Cullen announced he wanted to donate a kidney to an ailing friend. The authorities said he could do it only after his sentencing, which Mr. Cullen threatened to miss.

Many lawyers said that this was the first time they had ever heard of a serial killer trying to skip his sentencing. Earlier this month, prosecutors indefinitely delayed Mr. Cullen's sentencing, saying they needed more time to investigate the Essex cases and one mysterious death in Morris County. A few days later, Mr. Cullen struck back, saying through his public defender that he was finished cooperating.

"This isn't about a power trip, this is about a kidney," said his lawyer, Johnnie Mask. "Charlie's worried that if the sentencing keeps getting pushed back, it may be too late. He really cares about saving this life, ironic as that may seem."

On Friday, Peter C. Harvey, New Jersey's attorney general, said a new possibility had emerged: Mr. Cullen could be sentenced for the crimes to which he had already confessed, he could donate his kidney and then he could continue cooperating with the authorities on any open cases. "Our goal is to bring finality," Mr. Harvey said.

He added that prosecutors were mulling the options. If talks break down, there is an outside chance the plea agreement could be nullified and Mr. Cullen tried in court, exposing him to the death penalty.

What is giving Mr. Cullen his 11th-hour leverage is New Jersey's criminal procedure rule 3:21-4 (b), which says, "Sentence shall not be imposed unless the defendant is present or has filed a written waiver of the right to be present."

Mr. Mask and other defense lawyers say the law is on their side and that precedent upholds a defendant's right to opt out of sentencing.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, say judges have the ultimate discretion and can order sheriff's deputies to drag Mr. Cullen to court. Both sides vow to press their case aggressively, which only raises the specter of a long appeals process.

And now there's another potential complication. Christopher Bateman, a Republican assemblyman from Somerville, is pushing a bill that would force defendants to come to their sentencing. "It's only right that the families get to inflict a little pain, so to speak," he said.

But all the back and forth seems to be only compounding the pain.

"We want to know how Cullen, a criminal, a murderer, thinks he has so much power to decide what he can do and cannot do?" Tom and Mary Strenko wrote in an e-mail interview. "He is a killer and he has no right to decide anything!"

The Strenkos' 21-year-old son, Michael, was hospitalized in 2003 with a serious but curable blood disease. Mr. Cullen has confessed to killing him. "We are not giving up on this! No way!" the Strenkos continued. "It is as important to us as breathing air to have Charles Cullen once again look into our loathing eyes to personally see and hear the pain and suffering he has caused us for the rest of our lives!"

 

20060110: Serial Killer, Angry at Sentencing Delay, Stops Cooperating NJ Newark Serial Killer News

The New Jersey nurse who confessed to killing 29 people and has spent nearly two years cooperating with investigators decided abruptly on Tuesday that he would no longer help them.

The nurse, Charles Cullen, 45, was so upset about his sentencing being canceled last week that he is pulling out of a carefully constructed plea deal in which he had agreed to help identify his victims in exchange for not facing the death penalty, his lawyer, Johnnie Mask, said.

The authorities said that his refusal to cooperate could mean that prosecutors will seek the death penalty. It could also mean that many mysterious hospital deaths will not be resolved, leaving family members to forever wonder if their loved ones died naturally or were murdered.

Mr. Cullen has told the authorities he killed up to 40 people, many of them old and ailing patients whom he injected with lethal doses of heart drugs. But he did not remember all their names. So investigators have been struggling to identify them and, until Tuesday, were working closely with Mr. Cullen, sifting through mountains of medical records in the effort to jog his memory to determine exactly whom he killed.

The cooperation may now be coming to an end because of a kidney. In a strange concession to coax Mr. Cullen to come to his own sentencing and face dozens of grieving family members, New Jersey authorities agreed in December to allow him to donate a kidney to an ailing friend, as long as the operation was performed after his sentencing. But last week the authorities delayed the sentencing indefinitely, saying they needed more time to investigate hospital deaths in Morris and Essex Counties that Mr. Cullen may have caused. Mr. Cullen lost his patience, his lawyer said, and decided he would no longer help investigators.

"The deal is off," Mr. Mask said. "He's done. No more cooperation. Period."

"Now it's on the prosecutors' shoulders whether somebody else dies," Mr. Mask added, referring to the man who is waiting for a kidney donation.

Peter C. Harvey, New Jersey's attorney general, called that notion "ridiculous" and said it was not the prosecutors' role to find a new kidney for Mr. Cullen's friend.

"Our job is to protect the victims," Mr. Harvey said.

He also said, "It's strange that all of a sudden this guy has become a humanitarian after killing 22 people in New Jersey."

Paula T. Dow, the prosecutor for Essex County, where Mr. Cullen has admitted to killing several people, said Mr. Cullen's refusal to cooperate was "a clear breach of the plea agreement" and that "it now exposes him" to being brought back to court to face trial and possibly the death penalty.

But the reality of his ever being executed, at least in New Jersey, is slim because the state has not put anyone to death since 1963, and this week the Legislature passed a temporary moratorium on capital punishment. However, Mr. Cullen has admitted to seven murders in Pennsylvania, which does have the death penalty.

The authorities said on Tuesday that they were not sure if Mr. Cullen's action was a ploy to speed up donation of the kidney, or if he truly intended not to cooperate ever again. They added that they were unsure of what they would do next.

The development was the latest twist in a long case that began in 1987 at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. Mr. Cullen had a history of mental illness and suicidal behavior and gravitated to the night shift, where he was known among colleagues as solitary and strange, with a cold bedside manner.

In 1993 he was accused of killing a 91-year-old woman with a single injection of digoxin, a powerful heart drug that became his weapon of choice. But somehow he slipped through the cracks of the medical system and went on to work at 10 places in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania before he was arrested in 2003.

In 2004, he struck a deal with the authorities in both states to plead guilty and cooperate in exchange for at least two consecutive life terms, which in New Jersey meant he would not be eligible for parole for 126 years. But in December, as sentencing approached, problems arose, partly because of a little-known procedural rule that allows a defendant to skip his sentencing. Mr. Cullen said he might do that and deny his victims' families a chance to confront him.

Now it is not clear what will happen, with some prosecutors saying Mr. Cullen will be dragged into court, no matter what, while others are not so sure.

 

20060102: Serial killer nurse to face the families of victims NJ Newark Serial Killer News
This could be the week that Marie Romero finally gets to look Charles Cullen straight in the eye and tell him how much pain he caused by killing her sister.

Romero’s sister, Catherine Dext, was killed with an injection by the former nurse and admitted serial killer in June 1996 at Hunterdon Medical Center, where she had been admitted with a ruptured spleen.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin Thursday for Cullen, who pleaded guilty to 29 murders and six attempted murders during his 16-year nursing career in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Cullen, 44, has told investigators he might have killed as many as 40 persons, but authorities say that estimate appears to be inflated. Most of the victims were given an overdose of heart medication, usually digoxin.

The former critical-care nurse was able to move from hospital to hospital, despite suspicions he was killing patients, because the institutions did not report their fears to authorities.

The sentencing may stretch out over two days because so many victims’ relatives want to give victim-impact statements.

Cullen had filed papers to waive his right to appear at his sentencing, a move that outraged many of the families.

However, authorities had something Cullen wanted: the right to approve his request to donate a kidney to a relative of Cullen’s ex-girlfriend. With that leverage, authorities persuaded Cullen to agree to appear at the sentencing.

Cullen faces life for each of the New Jersey murders, and won’t be eligible for parole for at least 127 years. In exchange for his plea and agreement to help identify his victims, he escaped New Jersey’s death penalty.

State Attorney General Peter Harvey said he hopes to have all 22 New Jersey cases against Cullen resolved in this week’s sentencing. However, the sentencing could be postponed if no decision is made on whether to also bring charges in several open cases in Essex and Morris counties.

He also escaped death in Pennsylvania, where he still faces sentencing.

A judge there already has ordered him to be present.

 

20051207: Serial killer wants to donate kidney Serial Killer News

Former nurse Charles Cullen, who admitted murdering at least 29 patients in the Lehigh Valley and New Jersey by injecting them with lethal doses of drugs, wants to donate his kidney to save a life.

Cullen has asked prosecutors to allow him to travel to New York so doctors can perform the surgery, his attorney said Tuesday.

Johnnie Mask, Cullen's public defender, said prosecutors have agreed to let Cullen undergo the operation in New Jersey, but not travel to New York for it.

''I don't know what the objections are'' to doing the surgery in New York, Mask said. ''Security and expense have always been thrown up as an obstacle.''

Doing the transplant in New Jersey would mean a new transplant team and months of additional tests, he said.

In exchange for permission to give the kidney in New York, Cullen is willing to appear in court when he is sentenced to life in prison, Mask said.

''We're pushing prosecutors to do the operation in New York because the [potential recipient] doesn't have seven months to wait,'' Mask said.

Mask would not identify the intended recipient of the kidney, but The Star-Ledger of Newark, citing unnamed sources, reported in Tuesday's newspapers that it is a relative of Cullen's ex-girlfriend.

The man is in his 30s, a father of four and in poor health, Mask added. He lost kidney function as a result of infection.

Mask said the request for a kidney came about two months ago.

''Initially, some parties opposed the whole thing on the basis that Cullen could die on the table,'' he said.

Cullen, formerly of Bethlehem, had previously filed papers to waive his right to appear in court for the sentencing — an action that had enraged relatives of his victims, who want to confront him one more time.

At one point after Cullen's 2003 arrest, Mask said Cullen wanted to be able to explain his actions to his victims' survivors. But his position changed, Mask said, because the victims' families and victim-rights groups have been hostile.

By appearing at a sentencing, Cullen could answer at least some questions about his crimes.

Mask said he hopes to get an answer in the next few weeks on the transplant and any deal related to Cullen's appearance at the sentencings, which could come in the next few months.

Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest would not comment Tuesday on the transplant offer or the deal Cullen has proposed.

In a series of court appearances in northern New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley, Cullen has admitted to 29 murders and six attempted murders over the course of his 16-year nursing career. In the latest plea Monday, he admitted to attempting to kill Somerset Medical Center patient Philip Gregor in 2003.

There could be more pleas in the future, though authorities and Mask agree that the investigations are winding down.

Cullen was arrested in December 2003 and charged with the murder of a patient at Somerset Medical Center and the attempted homicide of another. The next year, he pleaded guilty and agreed to help authorities determine exactly whom he killed in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

 

20051206: Serial killer admits another attempted murder while a nurse NJ Somerville Serial Killer News
Serial killer Charles Cullen on Mondy pleaded guilty to another attempted murder at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, in what his attorney predicted would probably be his last plea.

In a proceeding lasting less than 10 minutes in state Superior Court, Cullen, 45, a former nurse, admitted before Judge Paul W. Armstrong to attempting to kill critical care patient Philip J. Gregor of South Bound Brook with an overdose of insulin on June 18, 2003.

"Yes, I did," said Cullen when asked by Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Van Hise if he had administered the insulin to the patient without a doctor's orders. "To cause his death" was Cullen's reply when he was asked why.

The answers have become increasingly rote for Cullen, who has pleaded guilty to killing 29 patients at hospitals in five New Jersey and two Pennsylvania counties and attempting to kill five more between 1988 and 2003.

"News of every heinous act he committed to a patient in his care still shocks and saddens us," said hospital spokeswoman Vicky Allen.

Cullen, shackled and clad in mustard-colored prison scrubs, was brought to the courtroom from the Somerset County Jail in Somerville, where he is being held pending his transfer upon sentencing to a maximum security prison.

He has appeared increasingly gaunt since his arrest and arraignment following a series of suspicious deaths at Somerset Medical Center in December 2003.

Compared with Cullen's earlier appearances, the courtroom was almost empty. although Gregor's widow and sister were present, they declined to comment. "When he's sentenced, I'll have a whole lot to say," said Linda Gregor.

Cullen's plea was part of an April 29, 2004, plea agreement in which he was spared the death penalty in exchange for cooperating with investigators in identifying victims. Investigators have since been reviewing files with him.

 

20050710: New Revelations about Convicted Serial Killer Nurse PA Bethlehem Serial Killer News

Nurses who worked with serial killer Charles Cullen at a Pennsylvania hospital apparently warned authorities long before his arrest that he was suspected of killing patients.

That's according to a report today in The Morning Call of Allentown.

But Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin says there just wasn't enough evidence at the time to prosecute Cullen for anything.

And the forensic pathologist who investigated agrees.The pathologist reviewed 26 cases of patients who died while Cullen was working at Saint Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem.

He says the only evidence beyond "vague suspicions" was medical histories of people who died -- but who were already very sick.

After leaving Saint Luke's, Cullen worked at Somerset Medical Center in New Jersey, where he has admitted killing patients.

 

20050520: Cullen tells AG basic security could stop killer nurses NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

The state's worst serial killer is offering authorities tips on how to thwart people who want to follow in his footsteps.

Killer nurse Charles Cullen met for eight hours over two days this week with state Attorney General Peter Harvey, who wanted to find out how to prevent future murders by medical professionals.

Cullen, who says he may have killed as many as 40 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania by injecting them with lethal doses of drugs, told Harvey that tracking who takes medications from dispensaries could prevent hospital workers from killing patients.

"He believes that the best deterrent is the certainty of detection," Harvey told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Friday's newspapers. "Using more video surveillance. Using a swipe card that would allow hospitals to easily track who is withdrawing what medication. These are security controls that can be placed on rooms that house medications."

Thus far, Cullen has pleaded guilty to murdering 24 patients and attempting to kill five others

The meetings Wednesday and Thursday were part of what Cullen agreed to last year when he promised to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in return for avoiding the death penalty. Harvey said he plans to speak again with Cullen.

"Once we complete our discussions with him, we are going to compile a series of recommendations that we're going to give to the Board of Medical Examiners and the nursing board with suggestions of how to better protect patients and hospitals," Harvey said. "We're going to ask for their input and action."

Cullen, a former registered nurse, worked at hospitals and nursing facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over a 16-year career.

Harvey said the 45-year-old Cullen showed some remorse _ an emotion that he has not displayed in court.

"He accepts more responsibility than he expresses remorse, but he certainly does both," Harvey said. "I didn't expect it."

 

20050511: Siblings assert serial killer nurse murdered father Serial Killer News

The children of a former Madison resident say they have compelling proof that Charles Cullen, serial killer nurse, killed their father with massive doses of digoxin in January 1997 at Morristown Memorial Hospital.

Lynn Popelka of Netcong and Wayne Sarrow of Readington Township paid to have the remains of their father, Henry Sarrow, disinterred from Saint Vincent’s Cemetery in Madison in February and examined, they said on Wednesday, April 13, at the office of their attorney, Anthony J. Macri of Denville.

Cullen, who is in the Somerset County Jail, denies killing the retired postal worker while he worked at Morristown Memorial from November 1996 to August 1997, according to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office. He has admitted to killing 24 patients, from 1988 to 2003, but none at Morristown Memorial, authorities said.

So far, Popelka and Sarrow have sued Morristown Memorial, alleging wrongful death and negligence, said attorney Macri, who added that he expects “a long fight.”

Macri said that autopsy reports have been sent to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, an office the siblings claim was unresponsive to past concerns that Cullen was responsible for their father’s death.

Autopsy Results

Henry Sarrow had been admitted to Morristown Memorial on Jan. 9, 1997, because of shortness of breath, and on Jan. 15 he suffered a fatal heart attack, which the family said was not expected. He was 77.

When Mr. Sarrow’s remains were analyzed after the February exhumation, they were found to have digoxin levels of 230 nanograms per kilogram, when a normal level should be 2 nanograms per kilogram, according to Macri’s office.

The levels of digoxin, a heart medication, found in Mr. Sarrow’s body were 125 times the amount that would be found in someone who was being given therapeutic doses, the family and its attorney assert. Such a scenario would fit Cullen’s preferred method of killing – administering overdoses of digoxin.

Mr. Sarrow had worked as a school crossing guard for the Madison Board of Education after his retirement as a postal worker.

Recognized Nurse

After Cullen was arrested in 2003 on charges that he administered a lethal overdose to one patient and attempted to murder another at the Somerset Medical Center, Popelka reportedly recognized Cullen from news photos as a nurse at Morristown Memorial during her father’s hospitalization.

According to attorney Macri, hospital records show Cullen was on duty during overnight hours before two cardiac episodes Mr. Sarrow suffered at Morristown Memorial, the second one fatal.

Cullen is reviewing records from hospitals where he worked, including Morristown Memorial, cooperating with authorities in exchange for a waiver of the death penalty. He is expected to be sentenced to multiple life terms in prison.

 

20041231: Serial killer spends time reading and doing “homework” NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

CULLEN scans medical files to determine if any patients were his victims.
Life in the Somerset County jail is a little like life aboard the USS Woodrow Wilson, the submarine where Charles CULLEN spent months isolated in the deep waters of the Atlantic. In jail, CULLEN has limited space, a bunk to sleep in, and three square meals served with military precision. He has reading material, time on his hands, and no place to go: the cold steel walls of the sub (where CULLEN developed an interest in nursing by helping to inoculate his shipmates) have been replaced by the cold stone walls of justice.
The only times serial killer Charles CULLEN leaves the jail is to travel to various county courts to admit he murdered patients at the 10 medical facilities where he worked in New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. CULLEN claims to have killed as many as 40 patients during his 16-year career.
CULLEN has made five such trips so far, pleading guilty to killing 24 patients and attempting to kill five others by injecting them with various medications that he stole from the hospital's drug supplies. There will be others.
In exchange for his cooperation and guilty pleas, authorities waived the death penalty and CULLEN instead must serve at least 127 years in a New Jersey state prison before he is eligible for parole. For now, CULLEN will remain inmate No. 71533 in the Somerset County jail, on the corner of Grove and High streets in Somerville and across from the prosecutor's office where he first admitted his deep, dark secret to detectives after being arrested last December.

 

20041117: Serial killer nurse pleads guilty to murders in Lehigh County PA Allentown Serial Killer News
Serial killer Charles Cullen pleaded guilty today to six murders and three attempted murders in Lehigh County, bringing the former nurse's tally to 23 deaths in two states...Whispering his replies to a judge's routine questions, Cullen, 44, formerly of Bethlehem, offered no details or excuses to the victims' relatives, dozens of whom packed the Allentown courtroom..."He took something away that was so precious to us and we're never going to forgive him," said Connie Keeler, of Bethlehem, whose father Cullen tried to kill..."He shows no emotion to what he did," she said...Keeler's father, Lehigh Valley radio personality Paul Galgon, 72, died of renal failure at St. Luke's Hospital near Bethlehem nine hours after Cullen injected him with the heart stimulant digoxin. Forensic evidence showed that the digoxin contributed to Galgon's death...Family members were not given a chance to address Cullen today, but are expected to have that opportunity at his sentencing, which may be a year away. Judge William Platt denied Cullen's request to be absent during sentencing, which won't occur until after Cullen is sentenced in New Jersey...Cullen has yet to meet with prosecutors in Essex County, where he worked in the burn unit at St. Barnabas Hospital for four years; or in Hunterdon County, where he worked at Hunterdon Medical Center for two years. His attorney, Johnny Mask, said it appears that Cullen did not kill anyone in Morris County, where he worked in 1997...Cullen has pleaded guilty to murdering patients in hospitals in Somerset County and Warren County, in New Jersey, and in Northampton County, in Pennsylvania. Usually, he injected overdoses into the intravenous bag of terminally ill, elderly patients. His youngest known victim was Matthew Mattern, a 22-year-old patient the burn unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital near Allentown...Cullen will be sentenced to life in prison as part of a plea agreement worked out with prosecutors in both states. He told authorities after his arrest in December that he killed as many as 40 patients in 10 hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey during his 16-year career as a registered nurse. Prosecutors have agreed not to seek the death penalty as long as Cullen cooperates by identifying his victims.
 

20041106: Pa. judge rejects serial killer's intention to skip sentencing PA Allentown Serial Killer News
A former nurse who has admitted killing 17 patients with lethal doses of medication at hospitals in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania will have to attend his sentencing hearing and face the families of his alleged victims in Lehigh County, a judge has ruled. ..Cullen, 44, is scheduled to plead guilty Nov. 17 in Lehigh County Court to six counts of homicide and three counts of attempted homicide. Families won't be able to confront him at the hearing but will be able to do so when Cullen returns to court for his sentencing, likely next year. ..On Tuesday, Judge William H. Platt told Cullen's attorneys that he will not accept Cullen's waiver of his right to appear at the sentencing. ..Cullen's attorney, public defender Johnnie Mask, said he was not happy with Platt's decision but does not intend to fight it. ..After his arrest in December, Cullen told investigators that he killed as many as 40 people during his nursing career. He has pleaded guilty or been charged in a total of 23 murders and has agreed to help investigators identify his victims in a deal to avoid the death penalty. ..The families of several of Cullen's alleged Lehigh County victims were pleased with the judge's decision. .."He needs to be there to face us," said Connie Keeler, the daughter of Paul Galgon, 72, a St. Luke's Hospital patient authorities said Cullen attempted to kill in 2001. "He should have to look into each of our faces and see the pain we are going through." ..When Cullen pleaded guilty to a single killing in Northampton County in September, the daughter of the elderly victim called Cullen a monster, talked about her father's life, and asked Cullen whether he remembered his victims. ..Mask said the hearing was hard on his client, and he would prefer to avoid them. ..In Lehigh County, Cullen is accused of killing five people and attempting to kill two others at St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill, where he worked from June 2000 to June 2002, and killing one person and attempting to kill another at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township, where he worked from December 1998 to April 2000. ..In neighboring Northampton County, he pleaded guilty to killing one person at Easton Hospital. ..In New Jersey, Cullen has pleaded guilty to killing 16 people and attempting to kill two others at Somerset Medical Center and Warren Hospital. ..Under his plea agreement, Cullen will be sentenced to life in prison in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and will serve the sentence in New Jersey. He will not be eligible for parole for at least 127 years. .
 

20041030: Serial Killer Seeking to Skip Sentencing PA Allentown Serial Killer News
A district attorney said he is trying to determine whether serial killer Charles Cullen can be compelled to appear in court so relatives of the patients he is accused of killing can confront him if he is sentenced to life in prison...Cullen, a former registered nurse, is expected to plead guilty in the next few weeks to charges he killed six patients at two hospitals with lethal doses of medication. Under the proposed plea agreement, Cullen would be spared the death penalty in exchange for helping to identify his victims...Cullen already has pleaded guilty to killing 17 during a 16-year career at hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey...Cullen has said through his attorney he wants to waive his right to be in court at sentencing...But District Attorney James Martin says he will do research to determine whether there is a legal way to force Cullen to appear. "In all my years doing this, I've never seen a defendant not come to his sentencing," he said...Margory Blakemore, daughter of Edward O'Toole, who died at St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill in 2002, said she and other relatives should have the right to address Cullen face to face. "He should have to hear about how much pain he's caused," she said.. .
 


Copyright 1995-2006 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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