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Dora Luz BUENROSTRO

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 3
Date of murder: October 25/27, 1994
Date of arrest: October 29, 1994
Date of birth: 1960
Victim profile: Susana, 9, Vicente, 8, and Deidra, 4 (her children)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: San Jacinto, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on October 2, 1998
 
 
 
 
 
 

Dora Buenrostro was sentenced to death for stabbing her three children to death. She was convicted of murdering Susana, 9, Vicente, 8, and Deidra, 4, on October 27, 1994. All three children were stabbed in the neck.

Jurors said Buenrostro showed a lack of remorse when she testified during the penalty hearings. She planned the killings to hurt her husband, Alex Buenrostro, then tried to frame him. After her conviction, Buenrostro lashed out at police in San Jacinto, where she lived, at prosecutors and her own attorneys. She denied killing her children and continued to blame her former husband.

 
 

Dora Buenrostro

A San Jacinto, California resident, Dora was charged with the murders of her three children. On October 27, 1994, she led police officers to her apartment were they discovered the bodies of her children Susana, 9, and Vicente, 8. The body of her youngest was found 10 miles away inside her abandoned car still strapped to the car seat. She tried to pin the bloody knife attacks on her estranged husband living in Los Angeles. 

A San Jacinto police officer remarked that before her arrest Dora, "was like a roller coaster. She went from laughing and joking to being tired to being nonchalant, but never showed remorse or sadness, even after we told her we found the body of her third child."

Obviously they never believed her and on November, 1995 a jury decided she was competent to stand trial despite the defense's contention that she is psychotic.

 
 

Execution of Mother Urged for 3 Murders

Los Angeles Times

July 31, 1998

RIVERSIDE A jury Wednesday recommended the death penalty for a mother who stabbed her three children to death.

Dora Buenrostro, 38, was convicted last week of killing Susana, 9, Vicente, 8, and Deidra, 4, in October 1994. All three children were stabbed in the neck.

Jurors said the defendant showed a lack of remorse when she testified during the penalty hearings. Sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 2.

Buenrostro killed the children in a rage after a fight with her ex-husband, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Soccio. In his closing statement, Soccio said she planned the killings to hurt Alex Buenrostro, then tried to implicate him.

After her conviction, Dora Buenrostro lashed out at police in San Jacinto, where she lived, at prosecutors and at her own attorneys. She denied killing her children and continued to blame her former husband.

The defendant stared ahead Wednesday as the jury's recommendation was read and a court interpreter whispered a Spanish translation. Moments later, as Riverside County Superior Court Judge Patrick Magers thanked the panel, she began to sob.

The three-week trial took a toll on jurors, police and attorneys. Jurors heard detailed descriptions of the killings and saw gruesome crime scene photographs. They heard Alex Buenrostro tearfully describe his arrest shortly after the killings and the impact the deaths have had on his life.

Some jurors and spectators cried several times during the trial.

Juror Tia D'Errico of Corona, who has a 6-year-old daughter, said Dora Buenrostro's tirade during the penalty hearings made a difficult choice easier.

"If she would have said, 'I did it, I'm sorry, I loved my children,' it would have made it easier to vote for life in prison," said D'Errico, 32. "It is not easy sentencing someone to death. But we made the right decision."

 
 

Convicted killer lashes out at police, attorneys

By Jose Arballo Jr. - The Press-Enterprise

July 29, 1998

A defiant Dora Buenrostro again on Tuesday denied she murdered her three children, then lashed out at police, prosecutors and her own attorney as she testified before the jury deciding whether she should be put to death or spend her life in prison.

"I am being framed," said Buenrostro, who testified against the advice of her attorneys during the penalty phase of her trial. "I was brought to this place because someone wanted me in jail."

The defense rested its case Tuesday, and jurors began to deliberate on whether Buenrostro, 38, should be given a death sentence or life in prison without parole. If sentenced to death, Buenrostro will be the only Riverside County woman on death row.

Deliberations will continue today.

Last week, the same jury convicted her of three counts of first-degree murder for the October 1994 killings. Buenrostro's children -- Susana, 9, Vicente, 8, and Deidra, 4 -- each were stabbed in the throat.

Looking disheveled and tired, Buenrostro was the first defense witness to testify during the penalty phase. As she did last week, when she accused her former husband in the killings, Buenrostro said she did not murder the children. Instead, Buenrostro said she was framed by San Jacinto police, whom she claimed planted evidence and lied during the trial.

Buenrostro also lashed out at prosecutors, whom she said "stopped at nothing for a conviction," and criticized her own attorney for not working hard enough and missing key evidence that would have cleared her.

The verdict may have been different, Buenrostro told her attorney, Jay Grossman, "if you guys would have done your job a little better."

Buenrostro initially appeared unwilling to plead for her life, telling jurors, "I'm innocent. I didn't do it," before admitting she did care about living.

At one point, she said the hearing was "just a waste of time."

Other members of Buenrostro's family testified, including her mother, Arcelia Zamudio, who asked the jury to spare her daughter's life. Some said they did not believe she committed the killings. Others described Buenrostro's transformation from loving sister and mother to an angry, distant woman during the months before the killings. They testified that Buenrostro was often mad and sometimes described seeing her family members transform into animals.

"I even thought she was using drugs," Zamudio said. "Something happened to her."

In his closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Michael Soccio called Buenrostro a serial killer who deserves no mercy. He described in detail the killings, including what must have been the horror of the children waking up from the pain of a knife being plunged into their throats. Susana and Vicente were slain in the family's San Jacinto apartment as they slept. Deidra's body, still strapped to a child safety seat with a broken knife blade in her neck, was found in an abandoned post office in Lakeview, west of San Jacinto.

"There are no words to describe what she did," Soccio said. "It elevates to the level beyond human understanding."

He showed jurors a picture of the grave the children share, then their portraits before displaying bloody crime scene photos of the bodies.

Grossman called the case an "unmitigated horror" and conceded Buenrostro lied several times during the trial. But he urged the panel to show compassion, saying nothing they decide will make things right.

"Do you think killing Dora will make up for the killings?" he asked. If the answer is yes, he said, then the jury should sentence her to death.

"Saving a life shows human beings at their best," he said.

 

 

CALIFORNIA: (potential death sentence for female)

Freno Bee

July 24, 1998 

In San Jacinto, a jury found a mother guilty in the 1994 slashing deaths of her 3 children and refused to accept her testimony implicating her ex-husband.

Dora Buenrostro, 38, was convicted by jury of 1st-degree murder in Riverside Superior Court Thursday.  The same jury will determine whether she should be sent to death row or sentenced to state prison without the possibility of parole.

The penalty phase of the trial will begin Monday.

Prosecutors say Mrs. Buenrostro murdered her 4-year-old daughter, Deidra, on Oct. 25, 1994, as she drove from San Jacinto to the Los Angeles home of her ex-husband, Alex Buenrostro.

The 4-year-old had a broken knife blade in her neck and was still strapped into her child safety seat when she was found in an abandoned post office in Lakeview.  Police say Deidra was also stabbed with a ball-point pen.

Mrs. Buenrostro plunged a knife 2 days later into the throats of her other children, Susana, 9, and Vicente, 8, as they slept in the living room of their San Jacinto apartment, the prosecution said.  Mrs. Buenrostro then drove to the San Jacinto police station and told officers her former husband was armed with a knife at the apartment.

Mrs. Buenrostro testified that Deidra was with her ex-husband the week of the killings and that the other 2 children were asleep in the living room when she left for the police station.  Blood found in her car and purse was planted by someone, she said.

"Someone wanted me in jail," she said.  "They went to any sort of means to that."

The only defense witness to testify during the week-long trial was Mrs. Buenrostro.

In closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Michael Socio described Mrs. Buenrostro as a serial killer who planned the killings to hurt Alex Buenrostro, then tried to frame him.

"There is an evil and viciousness in her," he told the jury.

Defense attorney Dave Macher, in his closing arguments, said the killings were not a premeditated act and that attempts to pin the case on someone else was a "pathetic excuse that came to mind."

"There was no planning here," Macher said, urging the panel to return with a 2nd-degree murder conviction if they did not believe Mrs. Buenrostro's testimony.

Jurors deliberated for about 90 minutes.

 
 

Jurors recommend death for Buenrostro

By Jose Arballo Jr. and Raymond Smith - The Press-Enterprise

June 30, 1998

Their hands trembling and faces stern, a Riverside County jury filed into court Wednesday and said a San Jacinto mother who murdered her three children should be put to death.

Dora Buenrostro, 38, stared straight ahead, emotionless, when the jury's recommendation was read and a court interpreter whispered in her ear in Spanish. Moments later, as Judge Patrick Magers thanked the panel for its work, her eyes filled with tears, and she dropped her head into her hand.

Then, Buenrostro began to sob.

If Magers follows the jury recommendation, Buenrostro will become the only Riverside County woman on death row, joining San Bernardino resident Cynthia Lynn Coffman -- the only other woman from the Inland Empire.

The verdict was written on jurors' faces as they entered the courtroom. They took their seats somberly, some fighting back tears. One dabbed her eyes with a tissue. Others worked to keep emotions in check, lips quivering.

As they gathered outside the courtroom afterward, jurors said they had searched for a reason to spare Buenrostro's life. In the end, it may have been Buenrostro's own words that doomed her.

After her conviction, Buenrostro stayed on the offensive. She denied killing her children, continued to blame her former husband, claimed San Jacinto police framed her, and lashed out at prosecutors and her own attorneys.

Juror Tia D'Errico of Corona, who has a 6-year-old daughter, said the tirade during the trial's penalty phase made a difficult choice somewhat easier.

"If she would have said, `I did it, I'm sorry, I loved my children,' it would have made it easier to vote for life in prison," said D'Errico, 32. "It is not easy sentencing someone to death. But we made the right decision."

Gregory Gunn of Sun City said Buenrostro's lack of remorse was hard to understand because she already had been convicted, and her testimony left little choice but the death penalty.

"If there had been something, an explanation, then it may have been different," said Gunn, who has two teen-age children.

The only other verdict open to jurors was life in prison with no chance for parole.

Buenrostro was convicted last week on three counts of first-degree murder for the 1994 killings. Buenrostro's children -- Susana, 9, Vicente, 8, and Deidra, 4 -- were all stabbed in the throat. Susana and Vicente were slain in the family's San Jacinto apartment as they slept Oct. 27, 1994. Deidra's body, still strapped to a child safety seat with a broken knife blade in her neck, was found in an abandoned post office in Lakeview, west of San Jacinto. After breaking off the knife in her daughter's throat, Buenrostro continued to stab her with a ballpoint pen.

Police suspect Deidra was killed two days before her brother and sister.

The brutality of the crimes and two-day span between the killings were pivotal points for juror Beverly Longpre. The time frame showed Buenrostro killed with premeditation, not in a moment of rage, she said.

One of Buenrostro's attorneys said he was not surprised by the verdict. Buenrostro's testimony during the penalty phase, given against the advice of her attorneys, was devastating to the defense, David Macher said.

"It was something that we had no control over," Macher said.

After the verdict, Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michael Soccio discussed Buenrostro's mental state with the jurors. During deliberations, jurors had asked about her competency to stand trial, but the judge instructed them that this issue should not be part of their discussions.

Most people react the same way when they first hear about the case, Soccio said: "She must be crazy." But there is distinction between someone being legally insane and someone whose actions appear to be those of a disturbed person, he said.

During the trial, Soccio told jurors Buenrostro killed the children because she was angry with her ex-husband and wanted to escape the burdens of motherhood. She was ordered back to court Oct. 2, when her sentence will be imposed.

The three-week trial took an emotional toll on jurors, police and attorneys. Jurors heard detailed descriptions of the killings and saw gruesome crime-scene photographs. They saw a videotape of police informing Alex Buenrostro that two of his children were dead and another missing. They gazed at pictures of the children as they grew -- family photos of parties and special moments -- then an image of the grave they share.

Jurors listened as Alex Buenrostro tearfully described his arrest shortly after the killings and the impact the deaths have had on his life.

Jurors and courtroom observers cried several times during the trial.

Longpre said she had to detach herself from being a mother of three -- two girls and a boy, the same as Buenrostro -- in making her decision. Some days, she hurried home to see her children.

"All I could think of was getting home and telling them I love them," she said, trembling. "It made me appreciate my children that much more.

"It'll probably be something I remember for the rest of my life. I hope I never have to do it again."

 
 

Woman Held in Slayings of Her Three Children

Suspect had tried to blame killings on estranged husband, but San Jacinto officials say he was in Los Angeles

By Tom Gorman - Los Angeles Times

October 29, 1994

SAN JACINTO, Calif. A 34-year-old woman who led police to the bodies of two of her slain children Thursday was arrested Friday on suspicion of killing them and her third child. Police Chief Nat Holmes said Dora Buenrostro appeared grim and was still trying to pin the murders on her estranged husband when she was arrested at 2 a.m.

Holmes said Buenrostro, referring to her husband, asked incredulously, "Well, aren't you going to check things out?"

"We said, 'We did. We've been to L.A.,' " Holmes said. Investigators had already substantiated that Alejandro Buenrostro, who lives and works in Los Angeles, was leaving home for his job when his children were slain.

"She got quiet," Holmes said. "She looked grim."

Buenrostro, 34, was booked on three counts of murder in Riverside County Jail. She was held without bail on suspicion of using a sharp cutting instrument to kill Susana, 9, and Vicente, 8--whose bodies were found in her living room--and Deidra, 4, whose body was found Thursday night. Youngsters discovered the younger girl's body strapped in a child's car seat in an abandoned building about 10 miles away.

Buenrostro may be arraigned as early as Monday, when the Riverside County coroner's office will conduct an autopsy on the three bodies. Riverside County Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Bentley said it is too soon to decide whether prosecutors would seek the death penalty, allowable in multiple-murder cases.

Holmes said the two older victims appeared to have been killed shortly before the woman showed up at the small San Jacinto police station Thursday morning. She said that her husband was in her apartment and that she feared for her children's safety. When police returned to her two-bedroom garden apartment about half a mile away, they found the bodies.

Investigators were less certain about the time of Deidra's death, he said. "She may have been killed many hours earlier, maybe 24 hours earlier," Holmes said.

Police Sgt. Barry Backlund said the motive for the killings is unknown, but that a possible murder weapon was found. He would not elaborate.

Backlund said the mother was arrested after making inconsistent statements to investigators. At first she said her husband showed up with a knife early Thursday at her apartment, but later said she never mentioned a knife, Backlund said.

The woman "showed a minimum amount of emotion during the day," Backlund said.

Bentley said the woman was "evasive and non-responsive," especially when asked to help locate the youngest child after she led police to the first two bodies.

"She didn't respond to that line of questioning. And if you can put two and two together, you know what we were thinking--that she already knew the baby was dead," Bentley said.

 
 


Dora Buenrostro

 

Dora Buenrostro

 

 

 
 
 
 
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