Sims Guilty for Murder of Fresno Teenage Girl

September 4, 2008 7:02:26 PM PDT
A jury reached a guilty verdict in a murder case that took investigators more than 30 years to bring to trial. Prosecutors believe Raydell Simms is a serial killer, responsible for the deaths of at least five young women. Already serving a life term for one murder, a Fresno County jury has just convicted him in the death of a second victim.

Ray Dell Sims showed no reaction as the verdict, of guilty of murder in the first degree was read. The 73 year old man was convicted in the 1974 murder of Elizabeth Ortega. The 15 year old girl was brutally raped and murdered. Her mother, cried out as the verdict was read. Outside the courtroom she had this to say.

Ramona Sorriano, Mother of Elizabeth Ortega: "I thank God for that. Cause God knew he was guilty. That's all I have to say."

Sims is already serving a life term for the 1977 murder of Janet Herstein. The 17 year old abducted and killed while on her paper route, delivering the Fresno Guide. Her mother, Edna Herstein was glad to see Sims convicted again.

Edna Herstein, Mother of Janet Herstein: "I needed to be here, it was for Janet."

But with the latest conviction, the Fresno County District Attorney's office decided to dismiss a third charge, accusing Sims of the murder of Kathy Stark, also murdered back in 1974. Because there was no death penalty back then, he couldn't get any additional punishment.

Blake Gunderson, Deputy District Attorney: "Mr. Sims couldn't serve any additional time for these murders so my office made a determination that if we got a guilty verdict in regards to the murder of Elizabeth Ortega, we wouldn't' try the Kathy Stark count, until and unless the board of prison hearings is stupid enough to let this SOB out."

Sims was brought back to Fresno from San Quentin in 2001. Investigators believed breakthroughs in DNA technology could convict him, and it was the DNA evidence that convinced the jurors of his guilt.

Kyndra Galloway, Juror: "That's unrebuttable. You know it's there, if he raped her, it's very likely he killed her."

Ray Dell Sims is also suspected in the 1976 murder of 15 year old Eva Hernandez Lucio, and in the 1975 murder of Robin Mcculler. But those cases were dropped several years ago.

Sims attorney says Sims actually had some hope he would not be convicted, in Ortega's death, but is now eager to get back to San Quentin, where he's already spent nearly half of his life.

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