State Supreme Court Upholds Ruling on “Black Widow Murders”

The California Supreme Court has upheld the murder and conspiracy conviction of an 81-year-old woman who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for taking out life insurance policies on two homeless men who were later killed in hit-and-run crashes.

Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt were convicted in 2008 of the 2005 killing 50-year-old Kenneth McDavid and 73-year-old Paul Vados in 1999.

Golay's attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, appealed the conviction based on the fact that one of the coroner's officials testifying at the trial was not the actual investigator involved in solving the deaths, denying Golay the opportunity to confront and cross-examine witesses. He argued that was a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Sixth Amendment.

He said Tuesday he plans to file within the next two weeks a petition to have the court reconsider its decision.

Golay and Rutterschmidt were sentenced in July 2008 to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murders of Vados and McDavid.

Vados was run over by a car in an alley in the 300 block of North La Brea Avenue in Hollywood, while McDavid died under similar circumstances in an alley in the 1200 block of Westwood Boulevard.

Prosecutors -- who opted not to seek the death penalty -- said the two women collectively received $2.8 million from life insurance policies they had taken out on Vados and McDavid after befriending the victims.


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The women housed the victims for two years to exceed the period under which the life insurance companies could contest the policies.

Golay claimed to be the fiancee of both victims, while Rutterschmidt claimed to be a cousin.

Golay was 75 and Rutterschmidt was 73 when they were charged in July 2006 with the murders.

The case, dubbed "The Black Widow Murders," was featured on an episode of "American Greed" and "Deadly Women."

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