Buddhist Temple Deaths: Closing Arguments in Third Trial for Doody

Image: Buddhist Temple Deaths: Closing Arguments in Third Trial for Doody Visiting Buddhist monks gather in front of Wat Promkunaram in Phoenix, Arizona on August 12, 1991.

Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 01:38 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Lawyers delivered closing arguments Monday in the third trial of a man charged with opening fire and killing nine people, including six monks, at a Phoenix Buddhist temple in 1991, The Associated Press reported. 

Johnathan A. Doody was just 17 when the shootings at the Wat Promkunaram temple occurred, and he was found guilty in 1993 for the crime. But an appeals court threw out Doody’s confession in 2011 and a second trial resulted in a mistrial.

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Closing arguments were offered Monday in Doody’s third trial. Prosecutors said Doody planned the killings and didn’t miss in firing 17 shots, most of which were into the back of the victims’ heads. The defense said Doody was only convicted after the state convinced another participant to avoid the death penalty by testifying against Doody.

Allesandro Garcia pleaded guilty in the killings, and testified, saying that Doody planned the crime to rob the monks. Defense attorneys maintained that Garcia lied to get out of the death penalty, according to the AP.

Doody’s confession, which was ruled inadmissible in both the second and third trials, stated that he went to the temple with Garcia but was outside when the shootings happened.

That turned out to be pivotal for the Arizona police community, which came under fire for interrogation techniques used after the shooting. Initially, police arrested four men, called "The Tucson Four," who made false confessions, according to the Arizona Republic. 

The case stirred up the community, which in turn pressured police to make arrests, a homicide detective told the Republic.

Russell Kimball, who was head of the homicide division at the time, said the four suspects turned out to be innocent of the crime and were questioned by people with no experience in police procedures.

"It was like an armed camp out there — everybody who was anybody in law enforcement wanted a part of it. The media was everywhere; it couldn't have been a higher-profile case," he said.

Doody is ineligible for the death penalty under a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision because he was a minor at the time the crime was committed.

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