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Tue, July 23

Jury finds Anderson guilty in 1996 triple murder

A Mohave County jury found Frank Anderson guilty late Tuesday of murdering three Golden Valley residents five years ago.

Anderson now may face the death penalty.

Anderson, convicted by a Mohave County jury at his first trial in 1998, was again found guilty for three counts of first-degree murder, one count of armed robbery and one count of conspiracy of murder.

His first conviction was overturned resulting in the second trial.

After the five day trial, the seven men and five women of the jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding Anderson, 52, along with Bobby Poyson and Kimberly Lane, responsible for murdering Leta Kagen, her 15-year-old son, Robert Delahunt, and Roland Wear at Kagen's Golden Valley residence Aug.

12, 1996.

Superior Court Judge James Chavez is expected to sentence Anderson Dec.

13 after a hearing to review aggravating or mitigating factors that could impact the sentence.

The maximum penalty Anderson could receive is death.

Chief Deputy County Attorney Jace Zack said he was grateful to the jury for the verdict.

"The Mohave County sheriff's detectives did a good job in their investigation, which led to the verdict," Zack said afterwards.

In his closing statements earlier in the day, Zack reiterated that despite the lack of physical evidence, there was enough evidence - the knife and a cinder block used to kill Delahunt, and the .22-caliber rifle used to shoot Kagen and Wear - to tie Anderson to the murders.

"Just because he didn't leave fingerprints, does that mean he wasn't there?" he asked the jury.

Zack also referred to Anderson's testimony on the stand Friday, which differed from the original statements he made to police after being arrested, as "preposterous."

During his closing statements, Anderson's attorney, Thomas Kehm, in turn referred to Zack's theory that Anderson and Lane conspired to kill Delahunt was just as ridiculous.

He also admitted that Anderson's statements to police had been inconsistent but said it is normal to be tired and worn down after 10 hours on interrogations.

"Is it really surprising when you give interviews for 10 hours, you're going to be inconsistent?" Kehm asked.

Again he tried to discredit Lane's testimony, the state's main witness, as inconsistent to previous statements she made to police after her arrest.

After taking Lane away from an allegedly abusive father in Lancaster, Calif., Anderson and the then 14-year-old girl traveled to Bakersfield, Calif., and Las Vegas before finally moving to Golden Valley.

The pair ended up at Kagen's home where Poyson was also residing.

The night of Aug.

12, Lane lured Robert Delahunt into a trailer where Anderson cut his throat, then assisted Poyson in smashing the youth's head in with rocks and bricks.

The jury also determined that Anderson assisted Poyson in shooting Kagen and Wear later that night.

The three codefendants then stole Wear's truck and, after dropping Lane and Poyson off near Chicago, Anderson was stopped and arrested in Southern Illinois.

In his first trial, the jury found Anderson guilty in January 1998 for the same charges of three counts of first-degree murder, one count of armed robbery and one count of conspiracy of murder.

The Arizona Supreme Court struck down Anderson's death sentence.

The court ruled 4-1 to overturn the sentence because of an error in qualifying jurors during his 1998 trial.

Zack said he was confident that error would not happen this time around.

Lane, 19, was also convicted in her first murder trial but the Arizona Court of Appeals overturned her conviction and the state Supreme Court upheld that decision.

Prior to her second trial, she pleaded guilty to lesser charges and received a reduced sentence.

Poyson, 25, was also convicted and sentenced to death in November 1999.

The U.S.

Supreme Court upheld his conviction and he remains on death row.


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