Man Facing Death Penalty in Fairfax County Suspected in California Homicides

Virginia criminal attorneys for a man facing the death penalty in two Fairfax County murders revealed on September 20th that their client is now a suspect in two additional murders in Riverside County, California. If the charges in California move forward, Alfredo Prieto will have been charged with a total of six murders and four rapes that occurred during a two year period from 1988 to 1990.

The Riverside County sheriff's department submitted DNA samples to a Texas lab last year that had been collected in five unsolved homicide cases, linking Prieto to the cold cases. The same method was used in 2006 to extradite Prieto to Virginia for the 1988 murders of Rachel Raver and Warren Fulton III, both twenty-two. At the time, Prieto was serving a sentence in California for a separate rape and murder. He was convicted of raping Raver and killing her and Fulton, and a jury sentenced Prieto to death. Last year, the Virginia Supreme Court ordered the sentencing phase be done over, as the verdict form did not allow an option for a life sentence. On September 7th, jury selection for the resentencing began in Fairfax County.

Virginia criminal attorneys for Prieto have requested a mistrial in the pending case in Fairfax to allow time for them to review the allegations in California. Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond Morrogh said he only learned of the DNA matches in California after jury selection was already underway. Morrogh indicated that a Riverside investigator asked if a plea deal would be considered in Fairfax to ensure Prieto's cooperation in the cases in California. Morrogh said that he had not received written conformation of the matches and was disinclined to "put it in."

Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows decided not to declare a mistrial in the case, saying:

"The Commonwealth has taken it [the cases linked to Prieto in California] off the table for purposes of this trial."

Jury selection continues in Fairfax County, and Morrogh plans to argue that Prieto be sentenced to death.