Buddhist Temple Deaths: Man Convicted Of Killing Nine People In 1991 Gets Retrial

Buddhist temple deaths from 1991 have now resulted in three separate trials for the man originally convicted of slaying nine people, with the latest one headed toward a verdict.

Johnathan Doody was 17 when he was accused of taking part in a massacre at the Wat Promkunaram temple in Phoenix, Arizona. A jury found that he killed nine people, including six monks, with execution-style shots, many to the back of the head.

Prosecutors said the killing was so systematic that Doody fired 17 rounds into his victims, not missing a single shot.

Doody was originally convicted of the Buddhist temple deaths in 1993, with a jury sentencing him to 281 years in prison. But in 2011 an appeals court found that Doody's confession was improperly obtained by investigators, and a retrial was ordered.

A jury failed to come to a verdict in a trial that ended in October, and prosecutors moved forward with a third trial for Jonthathan Doody in early December.

Jurors hearing the third trial in the Buddhist temple deaths deliberated on Monday, with deliberations expected to resume Tuesday morning.

Prosecutor Jason Kalish told jurors that Johnathan Doody was coldly calculated in the attack, making sure to leave behind no witnesses to identify him. Doody's brother and mother were members of the temple.

"This was someone who planned out what was going to happen before he even stepped foot inside that temple," Kalish told jurors. "This is somebody going person to person and back again killing them, shooting them, making sure they were dead."

But defense attorneys contended that the original conviction hinged on the word of Allesandro "Alex" Garcia, who pleaded guilty to participating in the Buddhist temple killings but said Doody pulled the trigger. Garcia claimed that it was Doody's idea to rob the temple of $2,600 in cash and valuables, but defense attorneys say he is lying and already implicated four other men who were found to have no connection to the killings.

"The only killer, the only murderer that has been in this courtroom is Alex Garcia," said defense attorney Maria Schaffer. "And Mr. Doody isn't guilty, was not involved in the temple murders whatsoever."

Because Johnathan Doody was under 18 at the time of the Buddhist temple deaths, prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty if he is convicted.