Testimony by a former cellmate/lover put James Andrew Melton on death row in 1982 for the murder of a Newport Beach gay man who'd advertised in a magazine for a companion. But that conviction was later overturned by a federal judge who ruled Orange County jailers over-medicated Melton during his trial so he could not understand the proceedings. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas abandoned the death penalty and went for life in prison in the retrial, but that ended this week in a mistrial.
Imagine how this must feel like a scab slowly being peeled off to family members of Anthony Lial DeSouza. He's the 77-year-old strangulation victim whose nude body was found on Oct. 11, 1981, in his condominium, a cord wrapped around his hands and neck.
Then-Los Angeles resident Melton was later determined to have stolen DeSouza's car and two diamond rings–five months after having been released from prison. Melton had a long rap sheet that included two rape convictions, one of which was performed on the altar of a Berkeley synagogue.
Melton is said to have admitted to killing DeSouza to Pasadena's Johnny Boyd, who testified that he and his former cellmate discussed robbing men who advertised for companions.
But jurors in this week's retrial could not break a 10-2 deadlock in favor of conviction, and Orange County Superior Court Judge William Froeberg set a June 27 hearing to discuss yet another new trial date.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.