Calif. Inmate Arrives in Va. for Trial in Slayings

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 29, 2006

A death row prisoner from California was brought to Northern Virginia under heavy security last night to face three capital murder charges in the random shootings 18 years ago of three people in Fairfax and Arlington counties.

Alfredo R. Prieto already faces a death sentence for the 1990 rape and shooting death of a 15-year-old girl in San Bernardino County, Calif. He has been held in San Quentin State Prison since his conviction in 1991.

It wasn't until 2004, however, that Prieto's DNA was entered into a nationwide database. Fairfax County homicide detectives, continuing to work on the December 1988 slayings of Rachael Raver and her boyfriend, Warren H. Fulton, both 22, resubmitted DNA from the crime scene along Hunter Mill Road near Reston.

Police said in court papers that the DNA from the Raver-Fulton slayings matched Prieto's DNA. Fairfax police went to San Quentin to take another DNA sample to try to confirm the match and renewed their investigation into whether Prieto was in Northern Virginia in 1988.

"You don't just get a DNA hit and lock 'em up," Fairfax homicide Lt. Bruce Guth said. He said detectives conducted more interviews and research to connect Prieto to the double slaying, in which Raver also was raped. In November, Prieto was indicted on two counts of murder.

Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said yesterday he would seek the death penalty for Prieto. Although Prieto faces death in California, the appeals process there could take an additional 10 to 15 years, Horan said he was told by California officials. Horan said Virginia can move capital murder defendants through both the state and federal appeals courts in five years.

The veteran prosecutor said he would handle the case.

Authorities said the DNA from the Raver-Fulton case was identical to DNA left at the scene of the rape and murder of Veronica "Tina" Jefferson, a 24-year-old CIA financial analyst whose body was found in Arlington in May 1988. In December, Arlington prosecutors obtained a third murder indictment against Prieto.

Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney Richard Trodden said yesterday that he would defer to Fairfax, because its case was a double homicide, but that he still intends to prosecute Prieto. "The Jefferson family feels very strongly about it," Trodden said.

Prieto arrived at Dulles International Airport at 9:49 p.m. Responding to a reporter's question, he said he would plead not guilty.

A phalanx of police vehicles escorted him from the tarmac at Dulles down Route 50 to the Fairfax jail. His first court appearance is set for Monday morning.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company