Kristine Johnson, Ca. Feb. 15, 2003

Started by anna, July 07, 2006, 04:10:48 PM

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Over 3 years after Kristine's abduction and murder the death penalty trial against her accused murderer has started today. Quote:

Father expects slaying trial to revive emotions
Thursday, July 06, 2006 By John Tunison
Kirk Johnson of Holland is prepared for a flood of emotions inside a California courtroom next week.

After a three-year wait, the trial is set to begin for a man accused of abducting Johnson's 21-year-old daughter under the guise of a photo shoot and strangling her.

"It's all going to come back," he said. "It's all being brought back to the surface."
Johnson said he has waited patiently for justice in the death of his daughter, Kristine Johnson, an aspiring actress who moved to California after graduating from Saugatuck High School in 1999.

"It's always been on the horizon," the Holland man said. "It's been over three years, and now, all of the sudden, bang, it's here."

Jury selection in the capital murder case against Victor Paleologus, 43, is expected to begin Friday in Los Angeles. The trial could last several weeks.

"His past is going to be totally exposed," Johnson said.

Police allege Paleologus lured Johnson to her death by posing as a publicity photographer for movie industry executives. Johnson, who lived in Santa Monica and worked for a cellular phone company, vanished Feb. 15, 2003, after telling her roommate she was going to a photo shoot.

Her body was discovered in early March, wrapped in a sleeping bag at the bottom of a ravine in the Hollywood Hills with her ankles bound.

The search for Johnson after her disappearance and the subsequent charges against Paleologus, initially arrested for auto theft, garnered national media attention.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Walgren is expected to call numerous other women to testify about Paleologus and how he allegedly tried to lure them with a similar photo scheme.

Kirk Johnson plans to attend the first several days of the trial, but said he isn't sure he can handle defense testimony to try to exonerate Paleologus. The suspect was released from prison just three weeks before Johnson's disappearance. He'd served time for a variety of charges, including assault with intent to commit a sex offense and burglary.

Johnson said he expects his brother from Anchorage, Alaska, and his mother from California to attend the trial.

Paleologus faces a possible death penalty because he is a three-time convicted felon and because he is charged with "lying in wait" before allegedly killing Kristine Johnson.

anna  Quote:

Witness Describes Stranger's Proposition at Mall
Testifying in a murder trial, the woman tells of an encounter with the defendant similar to one reported by a woman later found dead.
By Tanya Caldwell, Times Staff Writer July 14, 2006

When Susan Murphy read in the paper that a model hoping for her big break through a photography shoot had been missing for almost a week, she said she had to tell the police her story.

"Call it women's instinct," Murphy testified Thursday as the first witness in the trial of Victor Paleologus. He is charged with the murder of another young woman, who disappeared in February 2003.

 Murphy said a stranger had followed her into the Macy's at a Century City shopping center a month before Kristine Louise Johnson's disappearance, promising her a $100,000 role in a James Bond movie. All she had to do was show up the next day in a miniskirt, dress shirt, nylons and stilettos for an "informal screening" with Pierce Brosnan and Sean Connery.

Nothing happened to Murphy at the meeting.

The man told her to "forget it" after she showed up in tennis shoes and demanded identification, she testified.

On March 3, 2003, Johnson's body was found at the bottom of a ravine in the Hollywood Hills, bound and strangled, 16 days after she had left to meet a man she had met at the Century City mall about a role in a James Bond movie. Johnson was 21.

Paleologus, 43, was charged with her murder while being held at Men's Central Jail in 2003 on suspicion of auto theft.

On Thursday, Murphy pointed to him as the man she had met years ago. She said he told her his name was Victor Thomas.

Murphy is one of several women who will testify and tell similar stories about their encounters with Paleologus, Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgreen said.

But defense attorney Andrew Flier told the jury that there is no evidence ? including DNA or hair samples ? to prove that Paleologus was involved in the killing or that he had ever met Johnson.

"Not one scintilla of science, physical trace ? anything ? connects Mr. Paleologus to this case," Flier said. And even if Paleologus had encounters with other women, Flier said, "the bottom line ? is that he never killed any of them."

Testimony was scheduled to continue today.

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