Johnathan Doody (C) appears in court in Phoenix for
sentencing in the 1991 killings of six Buddhist monks and
three others at a temple Waddell, Arizona. REUTERS/Rob
Schumacher/The Arizona Republic/Pool
An Arizona man convicted of the execution-style killings
of six Buddhist monks and three others at a temple near Phoenix
over two decades ago has been sentenced to spend the rest of
his life in prison.
Johnathan Doody, 39, was sentenced to nine life terms after
being convicted by a jury in January of nine counts of
first-degree murder and armed robbery for a crime that drew
international attention and remains the most deadly mass
murder in the southwest U.S. state's history.
Thailand-born Doody also was convicted of one count each of
burglary and conspiracy by jurors in Maricopa County Superior
Court following a month-long trial. Doody did not testify
during his last trial.
Doody was not eligible for the death penalty because he was
17 at the time of the 1991 killings at the Wat Promkunaram
temple in Waddell, Arizona, prosecutors said.
He was originally convicted in 1994, but a U.S. appeals court
threw out the decision in May 2011, saying it was based on a
coerced confession, and a retrial was ordered. A second jury
deadlocked on his fate in October 2013, but he was convicted
in a second retrial.
The case cast a harsh spotlight on Arizona, focusing a
critical glance at the tactics used to solicit confessions
from the accused.
The bodies of six monks, one novice, one nun and a temple boy
were discovered on Aug. 10, 1991, in a circle, face down,
each with a single gunshot to the head. Personal property was
taken and their living spaces vandalized.
Four men from Tucson were originally arrested for the
killings after an intense interrogation by sheriff's deputies
resulted in their confessions. But the charges were dropped
when the men later recanted and authorities could not pin the
crime on them.
Authorities then focused on Doody and his high school
classmate, Alessandro "Alex" Garcia, 16, when a .22-caliber
semiautomatic rifle was found during an unrelated search of a
friend's vehicle. It was identified as the murder weapon.
Doody was questioned by investigators for 12 hours in October
1991 and admitted to his involvement. Garcia said Doody was
the mastermind of the plan to rob the temple, ordered that no
witnesses be left, and fired the fatal shots.
Garcia, who was the key witness for the prosecution at
Doody's latest trial, pleaded guilty to the murders and an
unrelated homicide and was sentenced to 271 years in prison