Snapshots from a Serial Killer: Reporters

The Experts Weigh In
Dave Lopez, a reporter for KCBS and KCAL in Los Angeles, has been following the Rodney Alcala case for over three decades.
 
Dr. Phil turns to Dave in the audience. "What are your thoughts with this conviction that we have now?" he asks.
 
"It's one of the most frustrating cases I've covered. I was a very young reporter, had just gotten hired at Channel 2 back in 1977. This was my first real major murder case I covered," he replies. "He should have been locked up forever. There's no question about that. He got out on bail, like you mentioned earlier, because his mother posted bail for him. Rodney Alcala is a very intelligent man."
 
"It's despicable," Dr. Phil says. "Clearly, no remorse whatsoever."
 
He introduces Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI profiler and NBC/MSNBC chief criminal analyst.
 
[AD]"I don't see any redeemable quality in this person at all," Dr. Phil says to Clint.
 
"He likes to play with people's minds. He likes to stalk people," Clint replies.
 
"From a profiler's standpoint, isn't it clear that this is not someone you turn loose in 17 months, you turn loose after two years for a violation of probation?" Dr. Phil asks, visibly angered. "Where's common sense?"
 
"This is a guy who's just playing the system," Clint agrees. "This guy stands up and says, ‘I'm as bad as they get. Look what I've done to this young girl.' That's the time we need to come down on this guy and say, ‘You will never see daylight again.'"
Dr. Phil turns to Loni Coombs, former deputy district attorney and legal commentator, and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
 
"Tony, with these appeals, they kept stripping away evidence from you, but God bless you for being a dog with a bone here, and staying after this and getting it done," Dr. Phil praises him. "This was a hill to climb, true?"
 
"The terrible frustration here is that our system just doesn't have the backbone," Tony replies. "The first case was certainly a fair trial. It was a good trial, it was properly done, and he should have been executed as a result of that, but we have a California Supreme Court bent on reversing death penalty cases, and so they took out evidence from the case."[AD]
 
Dr. Phil gestures to Tali. "She is left for dead, kidnapped, raped, and they plea bargain to 34 months, and then [Alcala] serves half of that time, and then this person walks back out, does another crime, gets 24 months. What do you have to do for our system to gut up and say, ‘By God, that's enough. You're out of the game, Buddy'?" he asks Loni.
 
"The reality of the situation is plea bargains occur every day in court. Thousands of cases get processed through the system, and there's no way that every case can be tried," Loni answers.

"The majority of cases do get plea bargained, but the most serious, the most violent " the sex offender cases, the murder cases " should not be plea bargained," Loni continues. "What happened in Tali's situation is egregious, and we all agree to that. What happened to her was horrible, but you have to remember, this was back in 1968. When he was finally caught, it was 1971. It was a totally different world."

 

[AD]"Hey, listen, I was here in 1968," Dr. Phil says. "Raping and leaving someone for dead was as wrong in ‘68 as it is today."
 
"What was in place at that time was called ‘indeterminate sentencing,'" Loni explains. "What that allowed was for the most violent people " even sex offenders, even murderers " to be convicted, be put in jail, and then if they showed that they had improved or rehabilitated, the parole board could release them."
 
Read Dr. Phil's blog about child abductions, and share your thoughts.