Huffpost Los Angeles

Rodney James Alcala On 'Dating Game' (VIDEO): Murder Suspect Uses Extraordinary Defense

Posted: Updated:

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A California man acting as his own lawyer in a case charging him with five murders played a video clip in court Tuesday showing him as a winning contestant on "The Dating Game" to prove his innocence in one of the killings.

The footage showed Rodney James Alcala, 66, wearing two gold ball earrings in his left ear months before 12-year-old Robin Samsoe was killed in 1979.

Prosecutors have said gold ball earrings found after the killing in Alcala's storage locker in Seattle had belonged to Samsoe. But Alcala insisted he bought the jewelry before Samsoe was killed.

Alcala donned the earrings before taking the witness stand in his own defense.

The scene verged on surreal Alcala spent several hours questioning himself and giving rambling responses about his movements on the day Samsoe -- the last of the five victims -- was killed.

"OK, Mr. Alcala, let's move on to ... let's talk about your earrings," he said to himself during the proceedings.

Alcala went on to testify that he bought gold ball earrings with a dangling chain in 1978 then clipped off the chain, leaving just a gold ball.

"I went to the club and, to make a long story short, I got kind of embarrassed because it looked kind of feminine," he said. "So, when I went home, I cut off the dangle."

Alcala, a photographer and former UCLA student with a purported genius IQ between 160 and 170, has been convicted and sentenced to death twice for Samsoe's slaying, but both convictions were overturned.

He was charged with killing the four Los Angeles County women between 1977 and 1979 after DNA testing in 2005 allegedly linked him to those crimes. It's the first time Alcala has been tried in those cases.

Alcala, who has been in custody since his initial arrest in 1979, has pleaded not guilty and denied special circumstance allegations of murder in the commission of rape, torture and burglary.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno at first rejected Alcala's bid to represent himself, but an appeals court ruled it was his constitutional right to do so.

As family members watched from the gallery, Alcala spent several hours Tuesday posing questions to himself about everything from the 12 different hair styles he wore in the late 1970s to his decision in 1978 to double-pierce his left ear and buy the gold ball earrings.

At one point, Alcala explained he could use hair gel and a towel to straighten his long, curly hair but also had worn it in a teased-out Afro before his arrest.

Prosecutors maintain that he straightened his hair then cut it after Samsoe's disappearance so he would not be recognized as the person in a police sketch.

Samsoe's brother, Robert Samsoe, said outside court that he was disgusted to see Alcala get so much attention on the witness stand.

"He's just trying to confuse them. He thinks he's so smart that if he throws one thing of doubt in there, it's going to get him off," he said. "It's his grand show."

Samsoe disappeared while riding her friend's bike to a ballet class in Huntington Beach in Orange County. Her body was found 12 days later in Angeles National Forest. Investigators were not able to determine the cause of death or if she had been sexually assaulted because of the condition of the remains.

Alcala maintains he was at an amusement park when Samsoe was killed. He has focused far less on defending himself against the other four murders, which were covered quickly in the first days of the trial.

All the adult victims in the case were raped and strangled -- some so forcefully that the blood vessels in their eyes burst and bones in their throat and jaw broke, prosecutors have said.

Alcala's first conviction in the Samsoe case was overturned after the state Supreme Court found that allowing evidence about Alcala's previous record of rape and assault on young girls improperly prejudiced the jury.

His second conviction was overturned by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that his attorneys hadn't presented evidence of an alibi and hadn't properly developed other evidence.

In addition to Samsoe, Alcala is charged with killing Jill Barcomb, 18, who had just moved to Los Angeles from Oneida, N.Y.; Georgia Wixted, 27, of Malibu; Charlotte Lamb, 32, of Santa Monica; and Jill Parenteau, 21, of Burbank.

WATCH: Alcala On The Dating Game

Around the Web

rodney james alcala posts - Crimesider - CBS News

Serial murder suspect takes the stand and questions himself in 1979 Huntington ...

Man charged in 5 Calif. murders claims alibi in 1

Mom shouts at man accused of killing girl