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Mass Murder Defendant Waives Jury

March 8, 1988

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The murder trial of a jobless handyman accused of killing seven women in his apartment and leaving their bodies to rot moved quickly into testimony after the defendant waived his right to a jury trial.

The defense and prosecution also declined to give opening statements Monday in the case of Harrison ″Marty″ Graham.

Graham, 28, waived a trial by jury as a panel waited to be interviewed, then pleaded innocent to seven counts each of murder, involuntary manslaughter and abuse of a corpse.

″He and his mother agreed that a judge would be more objective than a jury,″ Graham’s attorney, Joel Moldovsky, said after the court session. The move is also expected to shorten a trial that had been expected to last up to three months.

Assistant District Attorney Roger King moved for admission of all testimony and documents from a monthlong pretrial suppression hearing, including a confession Graham made to police in which he admitted strangling the seven women during sex. Common Pleas Judge Robert Latrone granted the request.

During the pretrial hearing, Moldovsky, contending his client is mentally incompetent, sought unsuccessfully to suppress the confession.

Moldovsky said the confession was made in violation of his client’s constitutional rights and after Graham allegedly was beaten by police during 17 hours of interrogation. Latrone ruled last week the confession was voluntary and that Graham was competent to stand trial.

The first witness called by the prosecution, acting city Medical Examiner Robert Catherman, testified that all seven deaths were homicides. However, the cause of death, due to the condition of the bodies, was undetermined, he said.

Graham turned himself in a week after police discovered rotting bodies in his bedroom and leg and foot bones on the roof of the house in a Philadelphia neighborhood notorious for drug dealing.

In the confession Graham told police the bodies began piling up in his bedroom, and he began having problems with maggots. He also told of difficulty sleeping during the day because of big black birds on the roof outside his apartment eating the woman’s body there.

″I had to stay high all the time,″ the confession said.

Moldovsky has indicated that his defense will be insanity.

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