Valley Man Convicted Of Buddhist Temple Murders Granted Retrial

August 12, 2013

A man convicted of murdering nine people in a West Valley Buddhist temple in 1991 is being tried again for those murders. A federal appeals court ruled that Johnathan Doody’s confession before his first trial was not voluntary. Jury selection began Monday for Doody. He was 17 years old when he and 16-year-old Alessandro Garcia were accused of breaking into the Wat Prankunaram Temple west of Phoenix.

Investigators said the two broke into the temple looking for gold they believed was kept by the Buddhists monks. Detectives said six monks, a nun and two helpers were found in the temple shot in the back of the head.

Garcia confessed to the murders and testified against Doody. Prosecutors agreed to not seek the death penalty against Garcia. A federal appeals court ruled that statements made by Doody were not voluntary because detectives interrogated him nonstop for 13 hours.

Doody is not eligible for the death penalty following a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, which prohibits prosecutors from seeking the death penalty for people who were under 18 at the time of the crime. Opening statements in the trial are scheduled to begin next week.

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