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La. Judge Upholds Murder Charges

December 14, 1998

HAHNVILLE, La. (AP) _ A Louisiana judge refused Monday to throw out two murder charges against serial murder suspect Russell Ellwood, even though a detective destroyed an out-of-state gasoline receipt that may have provided an alibi for the taxi driver.

Ellwood is charged in the February 1993 killings of Cheryl Lewis, 30, and Delores Mack, 40. He also has been called a suspect in up to 15 other killings in the New Orleans area.

Judge Kirk Granier agreed that Lt. Sue Rushing, a Jefferson Parish detective leading a New Orleans area task force, tore up the receipt. He said information about the receipt would have to be given to jurors at Ellwood’s trial.

Ellwood emerged as a murder suspect as the task force looked into the deaths of 26 people whose bodies were found floating in swamps and canals, lying under overpasses and decomposing in woods from 1991 to 1996.

Most of the victims were female prostitutes found nude or partially clothed. Authorities said they believe Ellwood liked to drug his victims senseless to have sex with them, then dumped them from his cab.

Granier also ruled Monday that a key witness had not been improperly coached as defense lawyers contended. The decisions followed three days of testimony by Rushing, the witness and task force members .

After the hearing, defense lawyer Maria Chaisson said she was disappointed that Ellwood was not freed.

``Unfortunately he’ll have to wait for his trial to be released,″ she said.

Ellwood has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Rushing and investigators, and the FBI is also investigating.

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