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Back-to-Back Capital Murder Trials

<sh>Back-to-Back Capital Murder Trials

<bt>The 2008 calendar of California death row inmate Alfredo R. Prieto has rapidly filled up in Northern Virginia.

Prieto, already on death row in California for the murder and rape of a 15-year-old girl, is scheduled to face a capital murder charge in Arlington in April 2008. Prieto is already scheduled for a two-month capital murder trial in Fairfax County in January 2008.

Prieto, 41, is accused of murdering Veronica "Tina" Jefferson, 24, in Arlington in May 1988. He is also accused of raping and murdering Rachael A. Raver and murdering her boyfriend Warren H. Fulton III, both 22, off Hunter Mill Road in Reston in December 1988. Fulton was from Vienna and Raver was from Alexandria.

DNA evidence taken from Prieto when he was on death row in California linked him to both 1988 crime scenes.

Arlington County Circuit Court Judge William T. Newman Jr. ruled Monday that Prieto’s constitutional rights to a speedy trial were not violated in the Arlington case as Fairfax prosecuted him in the Reston case.

The prosecution of two separate capital murder cases in two locations has been "cumbersome," said Theo Stamos, Arlington Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney during Monday’s status conference. "Somebody had to go first. We couldn’t bounce back and forth."

Last June, a Fairfax jury had convicted Prieto of two counts of capital murder and rape, but Circuit Court Judge Dennis J. Smith declared a mistrial six weeks into the case when one juror recanted, telling the judge that he didn’t believe the prosecution had proved Prieto was guilty of murder.

Fairfax prosecutors planned to present information about Arlington’s case during the sentencing portion of Prieto's trial to try to convince the jury to sentence Prieto to death.

<1b>— Ken Moore