2 death sentences in Fairfax slayings

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 17, 2010; B01

It was the holiday season of December 1988, and one of the last things Rachael Raver and Warren Fulton did on the last night of their lives was go to a Christmas party. Three days later, they were found in a vacant lot near Reston, shot to death.

In the Christmas season 22 years later, Alfredo R. Prieto was given two death sentences Thursday by a Fairfax County judge for shooting Fulton, 22, in the back while he was on his knees and then shooting Raver, 22, and raping her as she lay dying.

Prieto, 45, has now been convicted of three murders and is linked by DNA or ballistics to six more slayings, authorities say. He is already on death row in California for the 1990 rape and shooting of 15-year-old Yvette Woodruff.

Prieto did not make a statement when given the opportunity by Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Randy I. Bellows. Bellows then told Prieto: "What you did to those two young people was vile and horrible and beyond the pale. What I do today, in my view, is impose a just sentence."

As Prieto stood to be led out of the courtroom, Raver's mother, Veronica Raver, stood and said, "Hey, Prieto! Does your mother know you rape dying dead girls?"

Her family moved to quiet her, but Raver added disgustedly, "Twenty-two years of this crap."

Prieto did not respond. He also didn't blink when Bellows sentenced him.

Raver said afterward that she had rehearsed her brief comment and that it was not meant to be threatening, only an expression of her frustration and revulsion at the death of her daughter.

"He doesn't care. He's a sociopath," she said. "Have a merry Christmas, Prieto."

Raver, undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, traveled to Fairfax from her home in Yorktown, N.Y., multiple times for Prieto's three trials, beginning in 2007. She said she did not expect to be alive to see Prieto executed, but "I'll be there in spirit."

Prieto's first trial ended in a mistrial after the jury had convicted him but before sentencing. His second trial resulted in the death penalty, but the Virginia Supreme Court ordered a resentencing because of a flawed verdict form. The third trial was held from September to November and was solely to determine whether Prieto should live or die.

Four of the jurors returned to Courtroom 4G on Thursday. Rob Shapiro of Centreville said he came to show "empathy with the family, to show support. To let the [prosecution] team know how well they did. And for me, a little bit of closure, having struggled through such an experience."

Prieto is the first person to receive a death sentence in Fairfax since Mir Aimal Kasi in 1998, for a double murder outside CIA headquarters in Langley. He was executed in 2002.

Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh said he sought capital punishment for Prieto, even though he was already on death row in California, "because he'll never get the death penalty in California. He effectively has a life sentence. I think it was time to bring him to justice for his horrible crimes. I think he got just what he deserved."

Each of the Fairfax trials cost at least $400,000 - much of it in attorneys' fees for Prieto's appointed counsel - for a total of more than $1.2 million. But that does not include the airfare for some prosecution witnesses and family members, overtime costs for police, the costs to the jurors of weeks of missed work or the costs of incarcerating Prieto. The biggest charge from the second trial, records show, was a $155,000 bill from the Lex Group for collating, printing and binding the appeals briefs, transcripts and appendices.

In addition to the murder convictions, Prieto is suspected but not charged in the killings of Veronica "Tina" Jefferson in Arlington County in May 1988 and Manuel Sermeno in Prince William County in September 1989, as well as the slayings of Stacey Siegrist and Tony Gianuzzi, and Lula and Herbert Farley, in Riverside County, Calif., in spring 1990. Sheriff's deputies said Siegrist was raped and she and Gianuzzi were both shot. In August, DNA from Siegrist linked Prieto to the case, Riverside authorities said.

The Farleys were shot in an apparent carjacking in Ontario, Calif., where Prieto lived, and Herbert Farley's body was found not far from where Siegrist and Gianuzzi were discovered. Riverside officials said ballistics linked the Farley homicides to Siegrist and Gianuzzi.

In 2005, Fairfax cold case detectives Robert Murphy and Steve Milefsky resubmitted the DNA from Raver to a nationwide databank and received a match with a California prisoner they'd never heard of. But they found that Prieto had lived in Arlington in 1988 and was in prison for a similar rape-murder.

Then-Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. made the decision to extradite Prieto from San Quentin State Prison to Fairfax, believing that Virginia could complete its cases against Prieto while California's appeals process played out.

Five years later, Prieto's appeals are still not close to resolution in California, Deputy Attorney General Bradley A. Weinreb said. Prieto's case has been awaiting oral arguments in the state Supreme Court there for more than two years and must then return to federal court.

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