VALLEJO — Before jurors sat down Monday morning to their seventh week of testimony in a double-murder trial, the judge briefly described the nearly three hours of testimony last week by the defendant on the witness stand, answering often-leading questions from her defense attorney.
Judge Allan Carter summed up Paige Linville’s testimony last week as two and a half hours of saying how much and why she was scared for her life and docile and in shock about a pair of murders while devoting only about 15 minutes to the specific circumstances of the murders.
That pattern continued Monday, with Linville explaining why she wrote fan mail to serial killer Richard Ramirez while she was in jail after her arrest, and how she pretended to be tough and street savvy in jail and in prison.
Linville testified that the letter to the infamous Southern California killer of 14 people was written for her jailers “to shock them with something ridiculous” and to “get a rise” out of her cellmate.
Linville is accused of joining her boyfriend in a multiple-day methamphetamine binge that included shooting and killing two women, both strangers to them, on Nov. 16, 2007. The boyfriend has said they acted together and that Linville killed the second victim. Linville says she was numb with terror and shock to the first killing by her boyfriend and that he killed both women.
Linville spent much of the day Monday facing rapid-fire cross-examination from prosecutor Krishna Abrams.
Abrams started with questions about the fan letter to Ramirez, who is sitting on death row. Abrams asked Linville how she felt reading Ramirez’ autobiographic detailed account of rape, murder and grotesque violence. Linville said she was “not particularly terrorized by the book.”
The subject then switched to Linville’s claim that her childhood kidnap and rape at knifepoint contributed to her post-traumatic stress that erupted with the first murder.
Abrams had Linville provide specifics to the event in the fourth grade.
Linville said her mom had given her a ride to school but that she had to walk the last block or two due to traffic congestion at the start of the school morning. She said that two men grabbed her and drove away with her to a nearby alley, where she was raped in the back of a car before being dumped and then walking to school. Abrams got Linville to acknowledge she arrived at school as classes were starting. Linville continued to insist she never told anyone of the violent attack until adulthood because it had made her “feel dirty.”
Much of Abrams’ cross-examination focused on trying get specific details of what happened before, during and after each of the murders.
Linville said there was no conversation between her and her boyfriend after the first murder in Cordelia around 4 a.m. while they drove back to Vallejo, where they had picked up the victim off the street earlier with promises of methamphetamine and partying.
After the first murder and protracted silence, she joined her boyfriend to buy more ammunition and targets. Then the sparse conversation Linville recalled was mostly about his paranoia and his threatening to kill her if she did not shoot and kill her own victim. Linville said they drove around for as long as 45 minutes after target practice in rural Dixon, all of it with her in mortal terror, with him goading her to shoot and kill a handful of people walking by, since it “was her turn.”
She said she kept fearfully pleading and making excuses.
Linville insisted her boyfriend had, out of the blue, jumped out of the car and shot and killed a Dixon woman who was out for a lunch hour walk with her dog.
The long period of threats and goading were abruptly replaced by unexplained silence, Linville testified, even though her boyfriend then had twice as many reasons to be paranoid about her. Then they silently drove back roads and stopped for some snacks in Fairfield before they drove to Vallejo, where he dropped her off for work at her dad’s office.
Linville will face more questions from Abrams when the trial resumes Wednesday morning.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.