Prosecutor opens murder-for-profit case against elderly women
AP Special Correspondent
LOS ANGELES ” The prosecution in the trial of two elderly women accused of a murder-for-profit scheme on Wednesday showed jurors a videotape of one defendant accusing the other of being too greedy in taking out too many insurance policies on homeless men.
“It’s your fault,” Olga Rutterschmidt, 75, told co-defendant Helen Golay, 77, in the tape. “You can’t have that many insurers. … You were greedy. That’s the problem.”
The tape was played during an opening statement by Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Truc Do.
Do presented jurors an outline of evidence she said will tie the women to the deaths of two homeless men who were run over by cars.
Authorities allege that the defendants conspired to insure two indigent men, kill them in fake hit-and-run accidents and collect on the insurance policies.
Rutterschmidt and Golay each face two counts of murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder for financial gain in the deaths of Paul Vados, 73, in 1999 and Kenneth McDavid, 51, in 2005. Both women have pleaded not guilty. The prosecution is not seeking the death penalty.
“We have evidence to show she’s not guilty,” Golay’s attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, said in an interview Monday. “They have over 100 witnesses but they have no eyewitness, no confession. It’s all circumstantial.”
The videotape was recorded by the FBI when the women were in custody for what was initially a mail fraud investigation.
In one part of the videotape, Golay coolly attempted to say that one victim loved her and Rutterschmidt and felt they were his family.
Rutterschmidt snapped back: “I was the cousin. You were the fiancee. Baloney.”
Do said the women found the men in a homeless shelter at a Hollywood church, set them up in apartments and supported them for two years, all the while taking out multiple life insurance policies on them.
The prosecutor said they ultimately profited to the tune of $2.8 million and were still trying to collect on policies when they were arrested.
During the prosecution’s opening statement, the jury was show pictures of the victims’ bodies, receipts for rent, a car that has been linked to one of the killings and a rubber stamp with one victim’s signature that was allegedly used to sign insurance policies.
The case began in 2006 in federal court with a grand jury indicting the women on nine counts each of mail fraud and related charges for making false insurance claims.
But when further evidence developed in the alleged hit-and-run scheme, the case was transferred to Los Angeles County Superior Court and murder charges were filed.