Kurt Karcher, Serving Life for Strangling OC Attorney in 1992, Gets 88 Years for Choking Out Two Cellmates

A male prostitute already serving life in prison for strangling an attorney with a strap in a Garden Grove motel room and stuffing the body into a Dana Point trash bin nearly 20 years ago just got another 88-year sentence.

Kurt Karcher's latest crimes? Choking out two cellmates, one at the state prison in Lancaster in 2006 and the other at the Twin Towers jail in downtown Los Angeles in 2007. As Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus put it, 42-year-old Karcher is "essentially a killing machine."

Karcher was a 25-year-old Cypress resident in 1993 when he was convicted of killing Seymour Pizer the previous year. After the 61-year-old attorney's wife and daughter pleaded with Orange County Superior Court Judge Jean Rheinheimer to hand down the toughest possible sentence, the judge complied, giving him life in prison without the possibility of parole for the "outrageous, heinous crime."

Prosecutors claim Karcher killed Pizer during a robbery. Karcher was arrested after trying to use Pizer's credit card to pay for a hotel room.

Painting Pizer as an HIV-infected brute with a "death wish," Karcher's public defender claimed his client agreed to perform a sex act for $100, but that when Pizer tried to rape Karcher in a Garden Grove motel room, his client fatally attacked the lawyer in self-defense, strangling him with a strap.

After her son was convicted, Karcher's mother told the Los Angeles Times, "From the beginning, this trial has been one-sided," that the court was biased because "Mr. Pizer was a lawyer and my son was a nobody," and that, "There are things about Pizer the jury did not get to hear."

Those things were allegations Pizer had sex with another male prostitute.

Barry S. Michaelson expressed resentment at the time over what he considered the defamation of his partner of 20 years at a Santa Ana law firm. He also dismissed the defense claims that Pizer tried to overpower Karcher, noting the attorney was a small, aging man and the prostitute was a young, strapping former high school football player.

The jury in Santa Ana also did not buy it. For one thing, if the killing was in self-defense, why did Karcher move the body several miles away and stuff it in a bin? Why take the john's credit card?

Fast forward 18 years: An LA jury deliberated for 12 days before convicting Karcher of second-degree murder in the slaying of Scott Manning in 2006 and of voluntary manslaughter in Edgar Jimenez's killing the following year.

While handing down the 88-year sentence Tuesday, Marcus said Karcher showed no remorse for the latest killings.

Prosecutors wanted a first-degree murder conviction and death sentence for Karcher.


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