Lawyer: Baseline Killer suspect a 'ravenous wolf'
PHOENIX (AP) — Graphic images of dead people flashed across courtroom televisions as the victims' families looked on, weeping and consoling one another. Some had to leave to collect themselves.
For the first time since the nine victims were killed in 2005 and 2006, the man accused of the crimes is on trial for murder. The prosecution and defense delivered their dramatic opening statements Monday in the trial against Mark Goudeau, who is accused of being the so-called Baseline Killer.
Goudeau, 46, is also accused of dozens of other crimes, including rape and child molestation. His trial is expected to last nine months, with testimony resuming Tuesday.
Goudeau has pleaded not guilty. If convicted of murder, he could face the death penalty.
Prosecutor Suzanne Cohen told jurors that Goudeau was driven by a hunger to rape, and the victims who didn't cooperate were shot point-blank in the head.
"Beware of the predator that comes to you wrapped in sheep's clothing because he is a ravenous wolf," Cohen said. "Mark Goudeau is that ravenous wolf, and you shall know him by his deeds."
Cohen said "the only thing that matched his hunger to rape was his determination to not get caught and not be sitting in this chair."
"Those innocents did nothing wrong but cross his path while he was hunting," she said.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Randall Craig said there was a serious lack of DNA evidence in the case, and he questioned the integrity of the investigation.
"The Phoenix Police Department suffered from a severe case of tunnel vision," he said. "The key result of all this was they apprehended the wrong guy."
Goudeau sat quietly through the discourse, wearing a suit and tie and listening closely as the 74 charges against him were read.
Cohen said DNA, ballistics and other evidence tied Goudeau to the crimes. For instance, Cohen said, police found a ring belonging to Tina Washington inside one of Goudeau's shoes when they searched his house. The ring had three birth stones and the phrase "we love mom" inscribed on the side.
Washington, a 39-year-old preschool teacher, was found shot to death in an alley on Dec. 12, 2005. She had been waiting at a bus stop after a Christmas party when her attacker struck.
Later Monday, Cohen called the first witness — an 18-year-old woman whom Goudeau is accused of sexually assaulting along with another girl when they were 12. The Associated Press does not generally identify victims of sexual assault.
The young woman cried and wiped her eyes as she told jurors how she and her friend were forced to take off their clothes on Aug. 6, 2005, and how they were sexually assaulted.
She also said the assailant put a gun to her head and threatened to shoot her if she looked at him. When Cohen asked the woman who had assaulted her, she said it was Goudeau.
Under cross-examination by Craig, the woman said she never saw the suspect's face and based her in-court identification of him on a picture of Goudeau that she saw on television when he was arrested. But the woman said she was able to observe the assailant's mannerisms and physical characteristics, and that she was positive Goudeau was the person who assaulted her.
In opening arguments, Cohen detailed every crime Goudeau is charged with in graphic detail.
She showed the court images of the victims' bodies. All were shot in the head and lying in pools of blood.
Some people observing the trial had to leave the courtroom as certain pictures were shown. One depicted a 37-year-old woman whose 8-year-old son found her body at home in a tub of water.
Cohen said the boy turned off the water and unsuccessfully tried to pull her out of the tub before attempting to perform CPR on her lifeless body.
The picture showed the woman's arm dangling over the edge of the white tub, with blood running down the side.
Goudeau already is serving a 438-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2007 of 19 counts in a 2005 attack. In that case, police say he raped a woman while pointing a gun at her sister's belly.
The killings started in August 2005 and ended with the death of Carmen Miranda in what police described as a "blitz attack" on the mother of two on June 29, 2006. The Phoenix woman was vacuuming her car and talking on her cellphone at a car wash when a man kidnapped her, shot her in the head and shoved her body in the back seat.
The other eight people who were killed also were attacked while going about daily activities, such as leaving work or cooking lunch.
Many of the bodies were left with their pants unzipped and partially pulled down. The victims — eight of them women — ranged from 19 to 39 years old.
Defense attorneys contend there are likelier suspects than Goudeau.
Before handing down the sentence in the 2005 rape, Superior Court Judge Andrew Klein said Goudeau must have two "diametrically opposed" personalities — one calm and respectful in court, and the other sociopathic and brutal.
Goudeau also had been imprisoned for 13 years after being convicted of beating a woman's head against a barbell. The Arizona Board of Executive Clemency paroled him eight years early in 2004.
Goudeau previously acknowledged being a recovering drug addict and once blamed his history of violence on a weakness for crack cocaine.
Police named the series of killings and other crimes after Baseline Road in south Phoenix where many of the earliest attacks happened. Goudeau lived only a few miles from many of the attack sites, and Miranda was killed just around the corner from his house.