Judge convicts Kansas City man of killing 6 women

Thursday, March 27, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A judge on Thursday convicted a Kansas City man of killing six women whose bodies were found in an area of Kansas City frequented by drug dealers and prostitutes.

Jackson County Circuit Judge John R. O'Malley found Terry Blair, 46, guilty of six counts of first-degree murder in the 2004 deaths of Sheliah McKinzie, 38; Anna Ewing, 42; Patricia Wilson Butler, 45; Darci I. Williams, 25; Carmen Hunt, 40; and Claudette Juniel, 31. Two of the women had been strangled, but the causes of death of the other women could not be determined because their bodies had decomposed so badly.

Blair had agreed to be tried before a judge instead of jury in return for prosecutors agreeing not to pursue the death penalty.

During his trial, prosecutors described Blair as being a cold, calculating killer determined to kill as many women who worked as prostitutes as he could.

Prosecutors showed that Blair's semen was found on the body of victim Sheliah McKinzie and presented evidence they said showed Blair may have been the one who called 911 to tell police where to find the bodies of victims.

Blair has denied involvement in the killings and his defense attorneys have characterized the evidence against him as weak and circumstantial. For example, they said the semen found on McKinzie proves Blair had sex with her but did not prove he killed her.

Charges against Blair in two other slayings -- those of Nellia Harris, 33, and Sandra Reed, 47 -- were dismissed in October. Harris, unlike the other victims, was killed in 2003.

Blair also had been charged in three rapes and an assault that involved four victims who survived their attacks. Those charges also were dropped, because the facts were determined to be different from the murders of the six women.

At the time of his September 2004 arrest, Blair was on parole after serving 21 years for the 1982 murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Angela Monroe, who was the mother of two of his children.

In the run-up to the trial last year, O'Malley had criticized prosecutors for delays in providing evidence to defense attorneys. He also said he was concerned that police had not videotaped a seven-hour interrogation of Blair but had allowed a television crew to record it, then failed to get a copy. The footage has since been destroyed.

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