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'Tamiami Strangler's' death sentence upheld

Times Staff and Wire Reports
Published September 5, 2003

TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the conviction and death sentence of a man who admitted killing six prostitutes and dumping their bodies on roadsides.

Rory Conde, 38, the so-called "Tamiami Strangler," was condemned for the 1995 murder of his last victim, Rhonda Dunn, whom he picked up in Miami along the Tamiami Trail.

He pleaded guilty to the five other killings and was sentenced to life in prison in each of those cases.

Conde, separated from his wife and working two jobs to support two children, began preying on hookers along a stretch of rundown motels in late 1994.

The victims' bodies were dumped at night beside manicured lawns in neat neighborhoods. One victim's back carried a taunting, catch-me-if-you-can message for police.

The killings ended when a prostitute bound with duct tape made enough noise in Conde's apartment to attract neighbors' attention while he was out for a court appearance on a shoplifting charge. Conde confessed after police said DNA evidence linked him to the killings.

The Supreme Court rejected more than a dozen issues raised by Conde, including his denial that Dunn's murder was "cold, calculated and premeditated" or "heinous, atrocious or cruel," factors used to justify a death sentence.

Group supports Castor in Florida U.S. Senate race

EMILY's List, a nationwide group that favors women candidates, has thrown its support behind Democrat Betty Castor in Florida's U.S. Senate race.

In a statement released Thursday, the group's president, Ellen Malcolm, cited Castor's experience and called her a centrist whose views are in line with those of most Floridians.

Castor, a former state education commissioner and state senator from Tampa, is the only Democratic Senate candidate who has won statewide office.

She is one of five Democrats campaigning. All say they will not run if incumbent Bob Graham drops his presidential campaign and seeks a fourth term in 2004.

Man accused of role in Nazi murders deported

MIAMI - A Lithuanian immigrant accused of participating in the Nazis' murders of Jews and other civilians during World War II was deported to his native country over the weekend, federal officials said Thursday.

Vytautas Gecas, 81, had denied serving in a mobile killing unit in Lithuania and Byelorussia (now Belarus), saying he was then an 18-year-old student.

But according to court documents, Gecas served in a battalion that killed thousands of Jews, suspected communists and Soviet prisoners of war.

He entered England in 1947, worked as a miner, then in 1962 moved to Chicago, where he was an electrician, officials said. He later moved to Sunny Hills in the Florida Panhandle. He never became a U.S. citizen.

He spent 18 months in jail for defying a federal court order to answer investigators' questions in May 1999.

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