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Career criminal gets life for 3 killings in 1980s

September 25, 2014 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Samuel Little was sentenced to three consecutive terms of life in prison without parole Thursday for murdering three women in the late 1980s during the crack cocaine scourge when several serial killers prowled the streets of South Los Angeles and preyed on drug users and prostitutes.

Little, 74, lured his victims with dope and then beat and strangled them for his sexual pleasure, prosecutors said. He dumped their half-naked bodies in garbage.

He was convicted earlier this month of the murders of Carol Alford, 41, in 1987; and Audrey Nelson, 35, and Guadalupe Apodaca, 46, in 1989.

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“I cannot imagine the horror that went through my sister’s mind when the defendant was choking her to death,” Sherri Ann Nelson told the court before Little was sentenced. “I loved my sister dearly and she did not deserve to have her life taken like this.”

Little attended the hearing in a wheelchair and interrupted family members of victims to say he didn’t kill anyone. He also read a statement saying he had been convicted on lies from witnesses coached by liars and he hoped to get a new trial.

“The obsession with labeling me a serial killer without any proof,” he said, “was a legal lynching.”

Over 56 years, Little served less than 10 years in prison for crimes ranging from shoplifting to armed robbery and rape, authorities said.

The murder convictions were firsts for Little, though he was arrested in two out-of-state killings in 1982.

He was acquitted of murder in a Forest Grove, Florida, case. A grand jury didn’t indict him in a Pascagoula, Mississippi, killing.

Both those killings had similarities with the Los Angeles cases and authorities in those states and Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana, Texas, Georgia and Ohio began looking at old crimes to see if Little might be connected to unsolved crimes.

He was arrested two years ago in a Kentucky shelter after DNA linked him to the Los Angeles killings.

Three women, including two from Mississippi, testified at trial about surviving attacks in which Little beat and choked them.

Deputy Public Defender Michael Pentz argued during trial that Little’s previous record had nothing to do with the Los Angeles killings. Pentz said Thursday he had filed a notice of appeal.

At one point, the defense lawyer told his client to shut up as Little exchanged expletives with the angry son of a victim.

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“You took something very dear to me. You messed up big time,” said Tony Zambrano, the son of Guadalupe Apodaca. “You hurt my mom.”

“I didn’t do nothing to your mom,” Little said.

Two jurors who attended the sentencing said evidence against Little was so overwhelming that is was easy to reach a verdict in about two hours. They weren’t swayed by his statements in court.

“We didn’t hear him say a word up until today,” said Estyrose D’Elia. “I guess what he chose to say was stuff that was ludicrous.”

As Little was rolled out of court, family members of victims clapped from the gallery.

Little raised his left fist over his head.