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Death Considered for Yosemite Killer

October 9, 2002

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Jurors began deliberating Tuesday whether to sentence to death a former handyman who killed three tourists at Yosemite National Park.

Cary Stayner’s attorney asked jurors to show mercy. ``I’m pleading that we overcome the cruelty of Cary Stayner’s acts with understanding, mercy and love,″ Marcia Morrissey said.

Jurors deliberated less than four hours before quitting for the day; they were to resume deliberating Wednesday.

Stayner, 41, was convicted in August of first-degree murder in the slayings of Carole Sund, 42, her daughter Juli, 15, of Eureka, and their friend, 16-year-old Silvina Pelosso.

They were killed in February 1999 while staying at a lodge just outside the park where Stayner worked as a handyman. Stayner strangled Carole Sund and Pelosso and dumped their bodies in the trunk of a rental car that he later torched, burning the victims’ bodies beyond recognition. He sexually assaulted Juli Sund, slashed her throat and covered her naked body with brush on a hillside.

Morrissey argued that Stayner has a history of obsessive-compulsive and sexual disorders and has reported hearing voices and having visions. Prosecutor George Williamson told jurors, who already ruled that Stayner was legally sane, was a predator.

``There is no substantive or compelling evidence that when he committed these three murders he was mentally or emotionally screwed up,″ Williamson argued Monday.

Stayner is already serving a life sentence for beheading nature guide Joie Armstrong near her cabin in the park.

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