Man Who Killed Japanese Students Convicted of Murdering Inmate

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CITY NEWS SERVICE

A convicted double murderer is facing a possible second death sentence after being convicted Monday of murdering a fellow inmate in a retrial in which he acted as his own attorney.

Raymond Oscar Butler, 36, has been on Death Row since he was sentenced to death in 1996 for the execution-style carjack killings of two Marymount College students, one of whom was a Japanese citizen and the other a U.S. citizen born in Japan.

In 2009, the California Supreme Court reversed Butler’s separate capital murder conviction for killing a fellow inmate while he was awaiting trial in the double-murder case. The state’s high court said the trial judge erred by refusing to allow Butler to act as his own attorney.

After a day of deliberations, the jury in the retrial found him guilty of first-degree murder in the jailhouse slaying of Tyrone Flemming on March 26, 1995. He and two other inmates beat Flemming and stabbed him with a metal shank, according to prosecutors.

Jurors came back a short time later with a second finding — that the prosecution’s allegations that Butler was convicted of murdering Takuma Ito and Go Matsuura on March 25, 1994, were true. That set the stage for the penalty phase of the trial, which is due to start Tuesday, with Butler again representing himself.

The same jury will decide whether to recommend the death penalty or life in prison without possibility of parole.

Ito and Matsuura were each shot once in the back of the head after Butler approached them in a Ralphs supermarket parking lot in San Pedro, where Ito’s vehicle was parked. The stolen car was found later at another location in San Pedro.

The murders of the two 19-year-old students stunned Japan and prompted expressions of regret from then-President Bill Clinton and Walter Mondale, then the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

The jury in the Flemming murder retrial has not been told that Butler is already on Death Row.

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