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Jury Decides On Death In Coddington Case

September 21, 1988

PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) _ A jury Wednesday decided that gambler and math whiz Herbert Coddington, convicted of the strangulation murders of two women and sexual assaults on two teen-age girls, should receive the death penalty.

The El Dorado County Superior Court jury reached the verdict in the penalty phase of the lengthy murder trial after 3 1/2 hours of deliberations over two days. Superior Court Judge Terrence Finney set sentencing for Nov. 18.

Coddington, 29, lowered his head and stared at the defense table as the verdict was read.

Joette Hotchkiss, one of the jurors, said the panel took five votes before it agreed on the death penalty.

″The whole jury was very disturbed about Herb’s lack of remorse,″ she said. ″The only time he was emotional was when his mom was on the stand, or when (District Attorney Ron) Tepper said something he didn’t like.″

Jim Whiting, son of victim Maybelle Martin, 69, burst into tears and was led from the courtroom.

″I don’t even understand the emotions that went through me when I first heard the verdict,″ he said. ″When I tried to have compassion for her (Coddington’s mother), I kept thinking about my mother.″

Coddington’s lawyers said he believed he received messages from God through traffic signals when he committed the crimes in May 1987, but the prosecutor said Coddington was a deliberate killer who kept diaries of his acts.

″I think the jury reached the right verdict,″ Tepper said.

Coddington, who has a fondness for disguises, was convicted Aug. 11 of strangling Reno modeling agency owner Martin and Dorothy Walsh, 73, at his South Lake Tahoe mobile home.

He also was convicted of imprisoning two teen-age models in a specially built chamber in his bedroom and sexually assaulting them over a two-day period.

According to testimony, Coddington lured the women and girls to his home by pretending to be a producer of an anti-drug videotape. The girls, then aged 12 and 14, were models in Martin’s agency.

But after the females arrived, Coddington strangled Martin and Walsh and stuffed their bodies into trash bags, and locked the girls into a soundproof room.

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