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Lodge Sued in Yosemite Slayings

October 28, 1999

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) _ The families of three Yosemite National Park tourists allegedly slain by a mountain lodge handyman sued the lodge Wednesday, alleging it assigned the women to an isolated room and failed to do a proper background check on the man.

The wrongful death lawsuits filed by the Sund and Pelosso families also accuse the lodge of allowing Cary Stayner to wander the grounds with a master key and failing to provide enough security for its guests.

Both families also seek unspecified sums for punitive and other damages, and reimbursement for funeral expenses and legal fees.

Stayner, 38, is named as a codefendant in the complaints, which add yet another legal layer in a case already compounded by parallel federal and state prosecutions and potentially thorny defense issues.

Stayner, who is being held at the Fresno County Jail, was charged last week by a state prosecutor in the mid-February deaths of Carole Sund, 42, her 15-year-old daughter Juli, and their Argentine friend Silvina Pelosso, 16. An arraignment hasn’t been scheduled in this case.

He also has pleaded innocent in the July 21 death of Yosemite naturalist Joie Armstrong and will be tried in U.S. District Court in that case because the park falls under federal jurisdiction.

Prosecutors are still working out how and when the cases will proceed. Stayner faces the death penalty in both cases.

The Cedar Lodge is one of six motels in the Mariposa County area owned by Gerry Fisher and his family. In a short statement, the company said it had not seen the lawsuits and could not comment on the specific allegations.

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