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Lafayette murder trial begins

By lmclaughlin
Tuesday, June 26th, 2007 at 3:45 pm in Crime, Lafayette, Lamorinda.

By Bruce Gerstman

MARTINEZ — A door-to-door magazine salesman accused of killing and raping an elderly Lafayette woman told investigators that he remembered coming into her house, but did not assault her, a sheriff’s deputy testified today.

“He said there was a slight possibility they might have brushed shoulders,” Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy Cary Goldberg said in Superior Court at the preliminary hearing of Richard McNew.

The District Attorney’s Office started presenting evidence today at a preliminary hearing where a judge will decide whether McNew, 34, must stand trial for the killing of 90-year-old Ann Elizabeth Vuori on Dec. 10, 2005. He is charged with rape and murder and faces special circumstances which could make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted at trial. To read more, click here.

The sheriff’s department responded to a neighbor’s call on Dec. 10 saying that Vuori was in her bedroom, not moving. Investigators found her body bound by cords and a belt tying her arms, legs and head to the bed.

Clothing covered the floor, Goldberg said. Somebody had opened her drawers and rifled through them. Some savings bonds were missing.

“It appeared to me that the entire room had been ransacked,” Goldberg testified.

Investigators initially arrested a neighbor but prosecutors declined to charge him because the crime lab did not match his DNA with crime scene evidence.

By January, investigators matched the evidence with McNew through a national criminal database.

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