Suspect in alumni murder returns to trial

A man accused of raping and killing two GW students in 1988 returned to trial last week, after a mistrial temporarily stalled the case in 2007.

Soon after she graduated in 1988, Rachel Raver and her boyfriend, senior Warren Fulton, were abducted from a bar. The two 22-year-old GW athletes were later found dead in Reston, Va. They had both been shot in the head and Raver was also raped.

The case remained unsolved until 2005, when officials ran the DNA from the scene through a national database. It matched Alfredo Prieto, a man already on death row at San Quentin State Prison in California for the 1990 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl.

The database also helped link the GW murders to the rape and murder of Veronica “Tina” Jefferson, a CIA financial officer killed in 1988, according to The Washington Post. She was found shot behind an Arlington, Va., elementary school in May. The semen found at the scene matched that found near Raver.

In 2005, Prieto, an immigrant from El Salvador, was indicted for the three murders and was moved to Virginia with the permission of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In his first trial, Prieto’s lawyer said there was no conclusive evidence that his client had actually killed the two students. He also tried to prove that Prieto was mentally retarded, which could help him escape the death penalty.

Prieto was charged with two capital murder convictions. Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Dennis J. Smith declared it a mistrial after one juror came forward claiming he was pressured into his decision, news reports.

The second trial has not been without mishaps thus far. On Jan. 9, Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Randy I. Bellows put potential juror Kenneth P. White, 61, into jail for contempt. White had been caught discussing a relevant Washington Post article with another potential juror.

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