Phoenix resident could get death penalty for murders


Al Bravo

PHOENIX (AP)—A jury convicted a 19-year-old military enthusiast Monday of robbing and killing nine people at a Buddhist temple in what a prosecutor said was the biggest murder case in Arizona history.

Johnathan Doody was convicted of nine counts of murder, nine counts of armed robbery and one count each of burglary and conspiracy to commit armed burglary in the Aug. 9, 1991, massacre.

Doody could receive the death penalty. A sentencing hearing was scheduled Oct. 28.

Authorities said six Monks, an elderly nun and two male followers were shot in the head one by one after being ordered onto the floor of the Wat Promkunaram temple’s living quarters.

In his closing argument, prosecutor K.C. Scull said that Doody, then 17, systematically killed each victim because he feared one of them might recognize him. His younger brother had been active at the temple.

Co-defendant Alessandro ‘‘Alex’‘ Garcia, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges in a deal to avoid the death penalty, testified against Doody.

Garcia, 18, told the court that he fired harmless shotgun blasts between each victim but that Doody killed each with shots from a borrowed rifle.

Jurors convicted Doody after two days of deliberations.

According to testimony, Doody and Garcia ransacked the monks’ quarters in the temple and took cameras, electronic equipment and $2,790 in cash.

Doody’s attorney, Peter Balkan, acknowledged during closing arguments that Doody had admitted going to the temple.

But he said Doody, an avid member of his high school ROTC unit at the time, told friends he was only going there to play a war game testing the building’s security system.

Doody didn’t testify.