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Jurors deliberate in case of elderly women accused of hit-and-run killings for insurance
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    LOS ANGELES — Jurors began deliberating the fate of two elderly women accused of killing homeless men to collect insurance money, after a prosecutor said the women had gone ‘‘out of their way to target men who had nothing.’’
    Helen Golay, 77, and Olga Rutterschmidt, 75, are accused of befriending two homeless men, taking out life insurance policies on them, and then collecting on those policies by killing the men in hit-and-run accidents.
    Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace urged jurors Monday not to be swayed by a defense attorney’s characterization of the duo as ‘‘little old ladies.’’
    ‘‘These two defendants are by their acts the worst of the worst,’’ he said. ‘‘They didn’t need this money. They weren’t poor and destitute. ... these men needed help and they gave them a noose.’’
    The jury received the case late in the day and then recessed for the night. They were to resume deliberations Tuesday.
    Grace spoke after a defense attorney told jurors the case was a ‘‘classic whodunnit’’ that has been likened to the movie ‘‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’’ But he said his client was only involved in insurance fraud and not the murders.
    ‘‘You don’t have a case frequently where two little old ladies are charged with such an atrocious crime,’’ said attorney Roger Jon Diamond, representing Golay.
    ‘‘I would be the last one to say it’s not suspicious,’’ he said. ‘‘But you need more than suspicion to convict Helen Golay of murder.’’
    Countering claims by Rutterschmidt’s attorney that placed blame on Golay, Diamond suggested that Rutterschmidt had her own plan to kill homeless men which was unknown to Golay.
    ‘‘We’ll concede it’s pretty sleazy what’s going on here with the insurance,’’ Diamond said. ‘‘These two little old ladies embarked upon a cockamamie insurance fraud scheme. ... The theory was if you insured an old, sick homeless person, that person is likely to die more quickly.... That’s insurance fraud. It certainly isn’t a murder scheme.’’
    But he said that when Rutterschmidt, who was to recruit old homeless people, began recruiting younger homeless men for insurance policies, ‘‘Maybe Olga had her own scheme to have these people killed.’’
    Grace, in his final remarks, replayed a surreptitiously videotaped conversation between the defendants after their arrest. In it, Rutterschmidt berated Golay for being too greedy and taking out too many insurance policies on the men.
    In the end, the women’s lawyers turned them against each other, each suggesting the other was at fault.
    ‘‘The relationship between the defendants was a complicated one built of greed which bred distrust and deception,’’ said Grace. ‘‘... They both are crooks and when you both are crooks neither one can trust the other.’’
    Before his summation, Diamond made a belated motion to sever the two women’s cases, saying it now appeared that they had ‘‘antagonistic defenses’’ which was not apparent at the beginning of the case.
    Superior Court Judge David Wesley said the motion was not timely and did not present a sufficient reason to separate the cases now.
    Diamond then went on to also claim Golay’s daughter, Kecia, 44, was the driver of the car that ran over Kenneth McDavid, crushing him to death. Kecia Golay has not been charged and did not testify in the trial.
    The deaths of McDavid, 50, and Paul Vados, 73, netted the defendants about $2.8 million in insurance claims.
    Rutterschmidt and Golay originally were charged with federal insurance fraud but that was dropped when the state charged them with two counts each of murder and conspiracy to commit murder for financial gain.
    The prosecution is not seeking the death penalty.

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