Larry Hazlett – black, age 30
Sentenced to death in
Kern County, California
By: A jury
Date of crime:
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Hazlett raped and murdered former beauty queen, Tana Woolley. Hazlett lived in Woolley’s apartment building and was the prime suspect initially, but police lacked evidence to arrest him. The case went unsolved for 24 years until DNA evidence pointed to Hazlett. In aggravation, prosecution presented evidence of four other rapes Hazlett committed. The defense attacked the DNA evidence, arguing the semen was not initially found on the bedspread.
Prosecutor(s): Ed Jagels
Defense lawyer(s): James Coker
Daily News Los
Angeles 6/19/04, 6/25/04,
Byline: Karen Maeshiro Staff Writer
ROSAMOND - Conviction of the man who murdered their daughter 26 years ago has brought some closure for William and Helen Woolley, but their loss will never heal.
Larry Hazlett, a 56-year-old former high school teacher from
was convicted of raping and murdering former Miss Rosamond Tana Woolley in
1978, a crime that went unsolved until DNA technology pinned Hazlett as the
``It's been one that I hope no one else has to go through,'' William Woolley said of the two-decade wait for justice. ``You just hope every day that something is going to come down the line to let you know that they finally found the guy and convicted him.''
He added: ``There's never going to be a complete closure, because you know the wound is healed but the scar is going to be always there.''
Hazlett was sentenced to death July 14, five days before what would have been Tana Woolley's 46th birthday. The jury deliberated one hour and 10 minutes before returning a guilty verdict.
``I really had a feeling he would be convicted. I thought with all the evidence, how could they not convict him?'' Helen Woolley said during an interview in their home, decorated with portraits and photographs of their four children and seven grandchildren.
Helen Woolley found her daughter, a 20-year-old
student and National
Aeronautics and Space Administration secretary, dead Antelope Valley
College Oct. 25, 1978, in her apartment on Poplar
Street in Rosamond.
The murder shocked residents of the tiny town and left them wondering who the killer was.
Neighbors later said they heard a scream the night before, officials said. A coroner's medical examiner reported she had been sexually assaulted and strangled.
Hazlett lived in Woolley's apartment building. He was tapped immediately as the prime suspect, but investigators said they lacked evidence to arrest him.
``Right after the (O.J.) Simpson trial, I started calling, saying, 'Can't you do something with DNA?''' Helen Woolley said.
The Woolleys' youngest daughter, Taryn, in the last two years before Hazlett's arrest in 2002, called detectives every month to check on the case.
She made a photo album containing pictures of her sister when she was little, family photos, and poems by Tana, and gave it to detectives, telling them, ``I want you to get close to her.''
On the day of the press conference announcing Hazlett's arrest, the detectives gave the album back to her and told the family the album did help.
``Bless my daughter and wife. They never let up on those guys,'' William Woolley said. ``It was as much a relief to them finding him to get Helen and Taryn off their backs.''
When the Kern County Sheriff's Department lab for processing DNA evidence opened, their daughter's case was the first one taken up, William Woolley said.
``The DNA got him,'' Helen Woolley said. ``Technology caught up with him,'' her husband added.
Six detectives worked on the murder case, and one of them, who has since passed away, said the hardest thing for him in law enforcement was having to retire from the force before arresting the killer.
Tana Woolley graduated from
in 1976, the year she was crowned Miss
Rosamond. She had been working as a secretary for NASA while attending school
when she was killed. Rosamond High
The Woolleys described their firstborn as the perfect child, who acted as the big sister and peacemaker to her three siblings and accomplished much in her short life.
She had a radiant personality, was a cheerleader and student government officer in high school, and had planned a career teaching handicapped children.
``She was always ... if you are going to have a perfect child, it would be her,'' Helen Woolley said.
``She was like a little Mother Hen,'' her father said. ``If a family could order a child, that would be the one you would want to order.''
The Woolleys have lived in Rosamond for 37 years. Their three other children gone, they now share their home with a 5-year-old Pomeranian named Chamois.
William Woolley, 70, retired three years ago as a test-wing program manager at Edwards Air Force Base. Helen Woolley, 68, retired from working in the guidance office at
They plan to eventually move to
. Las Vegas
A film crew from cable show ``Cold Case Files'' on A&E is coming out in mid-August to interview family members and police about the case for a future episode.
``The reason we want to do that is to let other families in the same situation that we were in know never to give up hope. Once you give up, you have lost the battle. As long as you have hope and are determined to see the case is closed, that gives you something to shoot for,'' William Woolley said.
Karen Maeshiro, (661) 257-5744
(color) William and Helen Woolley of Rosamond hold a picture of their daughter, Tana Woolley, who was killed in 1978.
Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
Julie ann brook (Member): I met this creep, and am glad he got death!
Back in 1978, I knew a lady who lived in those apartments, and met Larry Hazlett on one of my visits to my friend. I had my 4 year old daughter with me, and he tried to speak to me "and" my daughter. I told him I wasn't interested in him or anything he had to say, and he cussed me out and accused me of being prejudice against black people. As I was walking to my car, he grabbed me by the arm and said we would meet up again one day. I jerked away and told him NEVER! As I left he got in his little dark green MG, and proceeded to follow me, so I went to the police station and reported him. They said they really couldn't do anything because he hadn't committed a crime...to me he "had" because he had evety intention of doing harm to me & my daughter. Needless to say, I never returned to my friends apartment again. Like I said, he should have gotten the death penalty long long ago.
Byline: Karen Maeshiro Staff Writer
Kern County Superior Court jurors will begin hearing testimony Monday on whether 56-year-old Larry Hazlett should be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison for the 1978 slaying of a Rosamond community pageant queen.
Hazlett of Sacramento was convicted of raping and murdering former Miss Rosamond Tana Woolley, a crime that had gone unsolved for 24 years until DNA technology helped detectives pin down Hazlett as a suspect.
Woolley, then 20 and an
student and NASA secretary,
was found dead by her mother Antelope Valley
College Oct. 25,
1978, in her apartment in the 2100 block of Poplar
Street in Rosamond.
Neighbors reported hearing a scream the night before, officials said. Coroner's reports indicated she'd been sexually assaulted and strangled.
Hazlett, who lived in Woolley's apartment building at the time of her slaying, was tapped immediately as the prime suspect, but investigators said they lacked evidence to arrest him.
After deliberating 1 1/2 hours, the
Thursday found Hazlett guilty of first-degree murder and special-circumstance
allegations that make him eligible for the death penalty or life in prison
without the possibility of parole. Bakersfield
Prosecutors had presented evidence that samples of the defendant's DNA matched stains found on Woolley's bedspread the night she was killed.
Evidence was presented at trial that Hazlett raped four other women.
After working on the case for six years, investigators relegated it to inactive status - still unsolved, but not being actively investigated.
Detective Chris Speer reactivated the case in March 1999 - partly in response to the Woolley family's regular telephone calls inquiring whether any news had turned up.
After reading the old files, the detective contacted Hazlett in
where Hazlett was living with his wife, and persuaded him to submit blood and
hair samples. Sacramento
Those samples were sent to the Kern County District Attorney's Office crime lab, which determined that DNA evidence from the crime scene matched the DNA profile of Hazlett, detectives said.
Woolley graduated from
in 1976, the year she was crowned Miss
Rosamond. She had been working as a secretary for the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration while attending Rosamond High
when she was killed. Antelope
Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744
Kern's longest serving DA to step down, speaks on controversial career
District Attorney Ed Jagels, who is a household name in
where he's been the chief
law enforcement officer for 27 years, has confirmed he will not run for
re-election in 2010. Kern
As news bombshells, that ranks low. His departure has been expected since 2007. That's when Chief Deputy District Attorney Lisa Green announced she was interested in the job.
Jagels, however, didn't publicly confirm his retirement until a recent, wide-ranging interview with The Californian.
Over the course of his long tenure as district attorney, Jagels frequently landed in the public spotlight as a lightning rod for controversy.
He proudly embraced his "tough on crime" approach. His campaign slogan was "ask a cop," implying that his tough stance on crime had the support of police and deputies.
"This is a law enforcement county and Ed Jagels is a law enforcement DA," former Kern County Sheriff Carl Sparks said.
There can be no arguing Jagels' office locks a lot of people up.
puts more people behind bars
per capita than all but one county in the state. Kern's rate is 3 and 1/2 times
that of Kern
County . San Francisco County
That has earned him critics.
In 1999 the book "Mean Justice" was published, alleging that Jagels fostered a longstanding pattern of overzealous prosecutions. Many local defense attorneys agreed.
Throughout it all, Jagels remained at the helm, running unopposed for six times after his initial victory in 1982.
"We have not been overzealous -- but I hope we've been zealous," Jagels replied.
His tenure definitely included the prosecution of heinous criminals. There was Vincent Brothers, who killed five people including his three young children. And Juan Villa Ramirez, who brutally murdered Arvin High football star Chad Yarbrough. And Charles Ray Hall, the so-called
rapist, who attacked a series of women in their homes.
But Jagels also was dogged by a string of discredited child molestation ring cases, the killing of his number two man by a former district attorney investigator, and allegations that he was part a group of powerful, gay men known as The Lords of Bakersfield.
There were eight molestation ring cases with 46 defendants charged between 1982 and 1985. Many were convicted and some sent to prison for hundreds of years. Jagels applauded his prosecution teams.
But in 1986 the state Attorney General's Office stepped in and declared that the children were improperly questioned. The state report said investigators all but put words in the children's mouths.
In the years that followed, appellate courts overturned most of the convictions. Prosecutorial misconduct was a factor in a couple cases. Many children recanted.
Jagels said he now accepts that mistakes were made in those cases.
His perspective is that those cases came at a time when investigative techniques and prosecutions were "in their infancy" after decades of sweeping that crime under the rug, he said. The flaws included too many interviews and "inherently suggestive questioning," he said.
The attorney general's office recommended changes which have since been implemented here and elsewhere, Jagels said.
"If those cases came today, we would have handled them differently," Jagels said. "But what we had at the time, I think we handled them the best we could."
That comment surprised Brenda Kniffen, who with her husband Scott spent more than 12 years in prison before a judge ruled the two did not get a fair trial because their children were improperly questioned. The two have always maintained their innocence.
Jagels "never admitted his problems," Kniffen said. "He's always said we were guilty."
She said she was most disheartened by deceitful investigators who played her sons against each other. Kniffen said they told one son his brother said something the brother never said.
She said she believes Jagels should have intervened to put a stop to the flawed prosecutions. And Jagels should have put the brakes on Deputy District Attorney Andrew Gindes, she said.
One of Gindes' cases was overturned for prosecutorial misconduct. Kniffen said Gindes scared her little boys.
"What upsets me the most is all the years I spent away from my kids," she said. Now she and her husband live in another state and they see their sons regularly.
"We're not holding onto anger," she said. "It would hurt us more and would get us nowhere."
Attorney Michael Snedeker of
helped free 18 of the molestation ring
defendants. At first, he told himself prosecutors were thinking "the only
mistake you could make was not being aggressive enough," when it came to
potential child molestation. Portland,
But then he came across false evidence and evidence that had been withheld.
"I thought it was very shifty," Snedeker said.
He criticized Jagels for not admitting fault.
"Truth and justice meant nothing to him," Snedeker said.
Some of the defendants won millions of dollars in lawsuits.
The latest came just last month, when John Stoll, who spent 20 years in prison, settled for $5.5 million. He had been convicted of molesting a half dozen children. All but one have recanted their testimony.
Jagels has continued to insist that Stoll was guilty, pointing out that one victim has never wavered from his claims of being molested.
Stoll did not return phone calls seeking comment.
CONVICTIONS AT ALL COSTS?
Overzealous prosecutions in
was the theme of a book
authored by Edward Humes, who won a Pulitzer prize for another one of his
The book highlighted the 1992 trial of Patrick Dunn, a retired high school principal accused of murdering his wife.
The book alleged prosecutors withheld evidence, among other misdeeds, leading to a wrongful conviction. Humes declined to comment for this story.
Jagels blasted the accuracy of the book with a huge press release claiming more than 100 factual errors, false claims and gross distortions. Humes defended his "well-documented" research.
The Dunn case was what Jagels called "a run of the mill murder with very strong evidence of the defendant's guilt."
He said the prosecutor, John Somers, was "one of the most ethical prosecutors ever in this business" and is now a judge. Nothing crucial was withheld from the defense, Jagels said.
THE VIOLENT DEATH OF A FRIEND AND NUMBER TWO MAN
On a personal level, Jagels had to deal with the 2002 killing of his close friend and Number Two man in the office, Assistant District Attorney Stephen Tauzer.
Tauzer was stabbed to death by former district attorney investigator Chris Hillis, who pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter for a 12-year prison term.
At the center of their dispute was 22-year-old Lance Hillis, the son of Chris and the godson of Tauzer. Lance Hillis was a drug addict who was killed six weeks before Tauzer in a traffic accident near the
rehabilitation center he was in. El
Tauzer used his power and influence to put him in rehabilitation rather than jail. Chris Hillis believed his son wouldn't get better unless he hit rock bottom in prison.
Chris Hillis also believed Tauzer was having a gay relationship with his son. Tauzer denied that and Chris Hillis ultimately said he couldn't prove it. Sheriff's investigators found no evidence of such a relationship.
Jagels said he talked to both men, telling Tauzer that he didn't believe rehabilitation was the answer for Lance.
Still, Jagels said he was shocked by the killing and that he never saw it coming.
He said he didn't think he could have done anything to prevent it. Everyone involved was an adult and had a right to pursue what each thought was right, Jagels said.
Tauzer's death "was very difficult for me," Jagels said. "He was a very dedicated prosecutor and a long-time friend of mine. The perpetrator was also a friend of mine."
Tauzer's slaying evoked memories of the "Lords of Bakersfield," a group of powerful gay men in public life who reportedly had sex with underage boys and girls but were never prosecuted. Several of the alleged "Lords" were murdered, including Ed Buck, a former
personnel director killed by
a teen prostitute. Kern
The similarities between the Tauzer case and the others came up in a 2002 "Lords of Bakersfield" investigative series by The Californian -- and the paper asked what Jagels knew about Tauzer's relationship with Lance Hillis and about the Lords cases.
At one point, the paper submitted written questions to Jagels. Several asked if the prosecutor knew about alleged sex parties in the 1980s at the home of former publisher Ted Fritts, if he had attended or participated, or ever done anything to protect those who had.
Jagels said the questions "are so loaded with malice, innuendo and false assumptions" that it would be "silly for me to dignify" them with a response.
The questions, as well as many of the stories written about Tauzer, led to a rift between Jagels and The Californian.
Jagels said the newspaper "invented scandals that don't exist. All of these things were inventions," and reduced the newspaper "to a local version of the National Enquirer."
Mike Jenner, executive editor of the newspaper, replied, "We didn't invent a scandal. We repeatedly asked for Jagels to respond and he didn't."
But Jagels has frequently fared well with the local media -- even The Californian.
After all, whatever the critics said, Jagels was never challenged for re-election. No one in Kern's history stayed in the job as long as Jagels.
"He told the public exactly what he would do and they re-elected him," defense attorney Michael Lukehart said.
"I really don't know how
could have done any better
than Ed Jagels," said former sheriff Carl Sparks. "Look how many
judges we have who have been prosecutors." Kern
Families of victims have also put in a good word for Jagels.
Taryn Cain said it's "hard to hear" how people blast Jagels. "We don't see that side of him."
Cain's sister, Tana Woolley, was 20 years old in 1978 -- just two years after she was crowned Miss Rosamond -- when someone sexually assaulted and strangled her to death. The case went unsolved for 24 years.
Cain and her mother, Helen Woolley, never stopped calling sheriff's investigators and the district attorney's office. No one gave up, she said.
And then one night in 2002, Cain and her parents were together when the call came in that DNA evidence -- which wasn't even a technique in 1978 -- had led to the arrest of Larry Hazlett Jr.
Jagels personally prosecuted the case and won a conviction and the death penalty in 2004. It was the last case he handled himself.
"He's wonderful," Cain said. "He helped get closure for our family. I don't know if anyone else could have done a better job than he did. Just last weekend, I talked about him with my parents. He's such a caring person."
PRAISE FROM CRITICS
who have worked for him, with him or against him also weighed in on his legacy.
Some of his detractors still found good in Jagels. Kern County
"I disagree totally with his approach on incarceration," recently retired Public Defender Mark Arnold said. "It's not the panacea for public safety. Addressing the root causes of crime is."
Defense attorney and former prosecutor Kyle Humphrey agrees, saying Jagels' staff needs to work more for rehabilitation than incarceration.
"People aren't all bad because they've committed a crime," he said.
Humphrey, who once was one of Jagels' most aggressive prosecutors, said "it's about time" that Jagels steps down.
"The world he's been a prosecutor in is changing," he said.
Taxpayers can't afford to lock a person up to keep that person from committing a crime -- an approach Jagels equates with public safety, Humphrey said.
Retired judge Frank Hoover, who ran a drug court with the goal of getting people off drugs, said it was frustrating that Jagels wouldn't subscribe to alternatives to jail.
Jagels said he was always careful to be right about beefs with judges because he knew they couldn't respond.
Humphrey and Arnold had
complimentary things to say about Jagels. Hoover
During the last 14 years that
was public defender, he had "an honest and professional exchange" with
Jagels, Arnold said. "I never
found him to be as unreasonable as the reputation that I had heard." Arnold
The second week
was in Arnold ,
he and Jagels had lunch and struck a deal. Kern County
"We agreed we'll stab each other in the front, and he honored that,"
"We are both fighters, but while we disagree on most issues, we dealt with
each other with directness, honesty and integrity." Arnold
Humphrey said Jagels "is probably the best boss a person could have. He gave us a lot of discretion to develop as attorneys. He was always compassionate to the needs of his employees."
he worked well with Jagels on some court issues. He said Jagels was smart and
"I've enjoyed working with him on things we see eye-to-eye on." Hoover
Defense attorney Michael Lukehart said a byproduct of aggressive prosecutions was "it "gave me the chance to perfect and hone my talents."
Jagels' impact went far beyond in
One of his closest associates, now retired Assistant District Attorney Dan Sparks, said Jagels has been "outstanding for the state of
from around the state seek and respect his advice on almost every issue of
public safety." California
Jagels was a leader in the state to remove three members of the Rose Bird-led California Supreme Court in 1986.
"That was critically important to the safety of Californians,"
The Bird court overturned all the death penalty cases before it. In Jagels' view, it left
with a damaged set of criminal procedures. California
Jagels' next step,
said, was to spearhead reform under Proposition 115 which sped up the
preliminary hearing process, allowing police officers to testify about what
people told them. Sparks
"No longer could defense attorneys keep a rape victim on the stand for three days," Jagels said.
Proposition 115 also refined the jury selection process, restored grand jury indictments, created the crime of torture and streamlined criminal procedure, Jagels said.
"I'm quite proud of that," he said.
Despite harsh criticism from defense attorneys, Jagels was a staunch defender of the Three Strikes law in
which can imprison a defendant with two prior serious felonies to 25 years to
life in prison. California
Mark Arnold and other defense attorneys believe there are many cases where defendants are punished far to harshly under that law for a relatively minor crime that came many years after their past felony convictions.
Jagels said the law goes after "those guys who are most likely to re-offend." He added he's proud that he has the "highest per capita three strikes convictions in the state."
In his last months of office, Jagels is working daily to "minimize" the effort in
to release inmates from prison. He said the state has the ninth highest per
capita violent crime rate in the nation, but it's in the middle (about 25th) of
per capita incarceration rates. California
"It's disheartening to live in a state where we have extra welfare benefits, prevailing (high union) wages on public construction jobs and billions of dollars in benefits for illegal immigrants, but it wants to "release dangerous felons," he said.
CLOSER TO HOME
On a local level, Jagels said he is most proud of the good relationships his office has with the police, the strengthening of the his office's investigative unit and making the crime lab "one of the premier labs in the state. That has allowed us to solve and prosecute any number of serious crimes."
Among the things that please Jagels the most is when his office shines on a particularly difficult case that uses a broad array of innovative techniques to get a conviction.
The trial of Vincent Brothers, a former school vice principal convicted and sentenced to death for the 2003 murders of his mother-in-law, wife and three small children, "was a perfect example of what we're all about," Jagels said.
The case included reams of investigation reports, crime lab evidence and even scientific testimony that bugs on Brothers' rental car showed he drove across the county to kill his family. Prosecutor Lisa Green had to distill all that into an easy-to-understand case for jurors, Jagels said.
Over the years, his prosecutors "really have an extraordinary record of success, considering they have among the heaviest case loads in the state," Jagels said. "We take and convict in cases many other district attorney office wouldn't ever issue."
"I've been very proud to have worked with them," Jagels said.
His latest year-long quest was to target 115 "shot callers" in the local gangs and try to put as many behind bars or out of commission as possible. At summer's end this year about 90 percent of those on the list are either in custody, dead, moved out of state or the subject of warrants and pending cases, Jagels said.
OFF INTO THE SUNSET
Jagels said he held off announcing his retirement to avoid being a lame duck during tough budget negotiations with the Kern County Board of Supervisors this summer.
But now he's getting ready to move on to a life of retirement he intends to fill with more hunting, fishing, snow skiing, reading history and spending more time with his youngest son, 10-year-old Jeff.
He hasn't had any plans to run for another public office during his 35 years as a prosecutor, and has no plans in the future, he said. If the right law enforcement related job came along, he might consider doing that, but he doesn't want to leave
He said he's quite comfortable passing the baton to Green, a 26-year-veteran of the office who is the only announced candidate for the position. "She's an extraordinary prosecutor and very well respected," Jagels said.
Considering all he's been through, would he do it again?"
"Absolutely," Jagels said. "I've got to spend 35 years doing exactly what I wanted to do. I got to try to make society a little bit better place every day."
JAGELS' FAVORITE CASES HE PERSONALLY PROSECTED:
* Larry Kusuth Hazlett Jr., 56, was convicted in 2004 of murdering a young Rosamond woman in 1978. It wasn't until 1999 that DNA evidence on a blanket in her apartment led to Hazlett as a suspect. Hazlett was sentenced to death of the killing of 20-year-old Tana Woolley. She was crowned Miss Rosamond in 1976.
* David Leslie Murtishaw was sentenced to death in 2002 for the third time in the 1978 killings of three
students. Jagels said he didn't think other offices would try for a third time,
but Murtishaw's crimes were worth the penalty. University
of Southern California
* Bob Russell Williams Jr. was 18 years old when he admitted in 1994 to raping, stabbing and strangling 40-year-old Mary Rose Beck at her home in The Oaks. Despite asserting that Williams had a rough childhood himself, a jury in 1996 convicted him of capital crimes and he was sentenced to death.
Kern County District Attorney Ed Jagels
Grew up in the Pasadena-area enclave of
His father, George Daniel Jagels, an attorney and businessman, helped found the Leakey Foundation.
and UC Hastings Stanford
In April 1975, joined the staff of Kern County District Attorney Al Leddy
After Leddy announced his retirement, Jagels won an election against then-Superior Court Judge Marvin Ferguson. Jagels became
's top prosecutor in 1983 and
has run unopposed ever since. Kern
Quickly developed reputation as a tough-on-crime prosecutor. His name was bandied about as a potential Republican candidate for state office.
In 1982, he was the
co-chairman of Proposition
8, the "Victims Bill of Rights, " which passed in June of that year. Kern
In the 1980s,
and its DA's office gained
national attention when satanism allegations emerged against defendants Jagels
was prosecuting in the molestation ring cases. The allegations included infant
sacrifice, ritualized cannibalism and wholesale sexual abuse. No corroboration
was ever found for the satanism allegations, but they harmed the credibility of
the original molestation charges. Kern
The state attorney general's office, defense attorneys, memory experts and journalists have since criticized the handling of essentially all of the molestation ring cases.
Convictions in the cases fell apart after a flood of victims recanted. Reasons included flawed interview techniques, legal technicalities and prosecutorial misconduct.
In 1986, Jagels led a successful statewide campaign to remove Rose Bird and two other justices from the California Supreme Court over their opposition to the death penalty.
Jagels boasts that
has had the highest
per-capita prison commitment rate of any major Kern
In 1994, appointed to the Governor's Law Enforcement Steering Committee
In 1995, appointed the chairman of the Attorney General's Policy Council on Violence Prevention.
"Mean Justice, " a national best-selling book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes, is published in 1999. Humes charged Jagels' office too often prosecuted innocent defendants. Jagels said the book is nonsense.
In fall 2002, Stephen Tauzer, Jagels' longtime friend and top deputy, was found stabbed to death in Tauzer's garage. A month later, Chris Hillis, a former investigator in Jagels' office, was charged with Tauzer's murder.
Despite rumors that he might retire, Jagels won re-election in 2006.
Sources: Californian archives; Sacramento Bee; Kern County District Attorney Web site,
attorney general's Web site California
June 2004 [cached]
A Kern County Superior Court judge will decide whether to accept the jury's recommendation that 56-year-old Larry Hazlett of
be put to death for the 1978 slaying of a Rosamond community pageant queen. Sacramento
Hazlett was convicted of raping and murdering former Miss Rosamond Tana Woolley in 1978 -- a crime that had gone unsolved for 24 years until DNA technology helped detectives pin down Hazlett as a suspect. Hazlett was convicted of raping and murdering former Miss Rosamond Tana Woolley in 1978 -- a crime that had gone unsolved for 24 years until DNA technology helped detectives pin down Hazlett as a suspect.
Hazlett, who worked as a high school teacher, is scheduled to be sentenced July 14, at which time Judge Michael Bush will decide whether to accept the jury's finding.
Hazlett, who lived in Woolley's apartment building at the time of her slaying, was tapped immediately as the prime suspect, but investigators said they lacked evidence to arrest him.
After reading the old files, the detective contacted Hazlett in
, where the suspect
was living with his wife, and persuaded him to submit blood and hair samples. Sacramento
Those samples were sent to the Kern County District Attorney's Office crime laboratory, where DNA evidence from the crime scene was matched with the DNA profile of Hazlett, detectives said.
Hazlett has a stepdaughter who has a master's degree and works in child-protective services, and he has a biological son who is starting his senior year in college in
Coker said. New York City
Woolley graduated from Rosamond High School in 1976, the year she was crowned Miss Rosamond.She had been working as a secretary for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration while attending Antelope Valley College when she was killed.
Rendering their verdict in the penalty phase of Larry Hazlett Jr.'s trial, jurors agreed that the 56-year-old should be sentenced to death for the 1978 murder of Tana Woolley, 20, his former next-door neighbor in the town of
Hazlett's lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Dale Armitage, had pleaded for his client to receive a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, arguing that Hazlett had been a good citizen and family man in the decades since the killing.
Superior Court Judge Michael Bush, who is scheduled to formally sentence Hazlett on July 14, can reject the jury's recommendation. The same jury last week convicted Hazlett on a charge of first-degree murder with the special circumstance because the slaying occurred during a rape.
Woolley, a college student who had been crowned Miss Rosamond in 1976, was found dead in her bedroom strangled with one of her blue socks taken off her left foot on Oct. 25, 1978. Because he lived next door to the victim's family, Hazlett was questioned as a witness at the time.
The case remained unsolved until 2002, when police used new technology and DNA evidence to link Hazlett to the crime.
Woolley's father, William, said that while he sympathizes with the family of his daughter's killer, the jury made the right decision.
"If an animal kills somebody, you kill the animal," Woolley said. "He's an animal."
Man accused in slaying has long history of arrests
By STEVE E. SWENSON, Californian staff writer
The man arrested for raping and murdering a popular Rosamond woman 24 years
ago has a long history of arrests -- but few convictions -- for assault and
sexual-related offenses, court documents released Thursday say.
But Larry Kusuth Hazlett, 55, is a registered sex offender for a misdemeanor
child molestation conviction and he fits much of a 1983 FBI profile about
what type of person killed and sexually assaulted 20-year-old Tana Woolley
in Rosamond, court reports say.
The profile says the way Woolley was killed indicates an interracial
crime -- Hazlett is black and Woolley is white -- by someone who was
rejected by the victim.
Hazlett was brought to court Thursday to be arraigned on potential capital
murder charges in Woolley's strangulation death, but his arraignment was
delayed to Dec. 26 so that he can try to find an attorney.
He is charged with murder and special circumstances -- eligible for the
death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole -- of
murder during a rape and murder during a burglary.
District Attorney Ed Jagels said a final decision has not been made on
whether to seek the death penalty against Hazlett.
Hazlett lived in the same
apartment complex as Woolley -- his
back window faced her front window -- and he was interviewed by sheriff's
Oct. 25, 1978, the day the victim's
mother found her partially nude
daughter laying dead on her bed with a blue sock wrapped around her neck.
At that time, Hazlett said he went to the store on the night before --
during the time witnesses said they heard screams, but shrugged them off as
children -- and he didn't learn about the death until the day the body was
Witnesses reported that Woolley, who moved away from her parents and into
the apartment complex just three weeks earlier, had expressed concerns about
white men staring at her but she also thought someone from Hazlett's
apartment was looking at her.
That made her very careful about opening her door, even when her boyfriend
He told investigators she would look out a window before opening up the door
for him, and when he dropped her off -- as he did at Oct. 24,
1978, less than an hour before the screams were heard -- would look around
her apartment to make sure no one was there.
Just before her boyfriend, Ricky Max Rush, then 18, took her to her
apartment that night, they played backgammon and watched "Starsky and Hutch"
on television. Rush was examined but ruled out as a suspect in the case.
No real progress in the case was made and it became inactive in 1983, after
the FBI profile was made.
That profile by Special Agent Blaine McIlwaine says the door jam of
Woolley's apartment indicates the front door was forcibly opened.
He said the offender surprised the victim and hit her in the mouth in the
living room where an alarm clock was knocked over (she normally slept in the
Woolley rejected the offender's advances and he became angry, using a blue
sock he took off her left foot and wrapped it around her neck, strangling
her to death. The profiler called it a weapon of opportunity.
The profile says the offender is probably in his late teens to early 20s --
Hazlett was 31 at the time -- and he will have a penchant for violence and
A criminal record for Hazlett shows arrests from 1969 for drugs, burglary,
assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, rape, resisting arrest before
1979, but only one conviction for assault in 1971.
In 1973, Hazlett was investigated for raping a woman, but the woman declined
to follow through with the investigation and Hazlett said he had consensual
sex with the woman, court records say.
Hazlett worked at U.S. Borax, but quit in December 1978 after he was accused
of making tape-recorded bomb threats at the plant -- an accusation he
His criminal history continued with arrests from 1979 to 1992 for theft,
indecent exposure, rape and child molest in various cities, ending with a
1992 misdemeanor conviction in
worked as a music Sacramento
He was acquitted of five other crimes in the case in which he was convicted
of the misdemeanor.
The Woolley case was reopened by
sheriff's Detective Chris Speer Kern County
in 1999 who began to focus on Hazlett because of his criminal history.
On Tuesday of this week, Hazlett told
detectives that he was Kern County
framed in the
case. He also told the detectives he was innocent Sacramento
of Woolley's death and never was inside of her apartment.
Detective Joe Hicks asked, "Would it change your story if I told you from
the original crime scene, the Kern County District Attorney lab found
biological evidence of you being present?"
Hazlett replied, "That's a damn lie and at this junction I want a lawyer
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