LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Jurors have recommended the death penalty for a man who strangled two women and a 15-year-old girl between 1986 and 1993.
Michael Hughes, 54, is already serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole, for an earlier conviction in four other murders.
DNA evidence “conclusively” linked Hughes to the strangulation murders of Yvonne Coleman, Verna Williams, Deanna Wilson and Deborah Jackson, who were killed between 1986 and 1993, according to Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman.
The first witness to testify, ex-water treatment plant inspector Jimmy Lobato, explained how he came across the body of 15-year-old Coleman near a barbecue pit in an Inglewood park on Jan. 22, 1986.
Jurors were shown graphic black-and-white slides of the victims’ nude bodies, their legs spread apart, posed to shock whoever stumbled across them.
In Coleman’s case, Silverman contends Hughes placed one of the dead girl’s hands between her legs to further upset whoever discovered her.
Lobato said he placed newspapers over the girl’s body to preserve the victim’s “dignity” and protect elementary school students who were walking nearby.
Lobato testified that “the sight is etched in my memory” and will “haunt me for the rest of my life.”
The victim “was just a young, precious girl,” Lobato said, adding that he was “just heartbroken” about what happened to her.
Hughes is scheduled to be sentenced March 30.