Justices Uphold “Black Widows” Convictions

An appellate panel Tuesday upheld the murder and conspiracy convictions of two 70-something women who took out insurance  policies on two homeless men who were later killed in hit-and-run crashes in  Hollywood and Westwood.

The three-justice panel from the 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected  the defense's contention that errors were made in the trial of Helen Golay and  Olga Rutterschmidt, who were convicted in April 2008 in Los Angeles Superior  Court.

In a 47-page ruling, Associate Justice Sandy R. Kriegler said the  circumstances of 50-year-old Kenneth McDavid's June 21, 2005, death were  "inconsistent with a typical traffic accident" and "almost identical" to  those surrounding the Nov. 8, 1999, killing of 73-year-old Paul Vados.

With Acting Presiding Justice Orville A. Armstrong and Associate Justice  Richard M. Mosk concurring, Kriegler wrote that both men "had been insured  by defendants with no legitimate basis for doing so -- and whose only interest  in those insurance policies was for their victims to suffer untimely deaths."

The justices also cited "overwhelming evidence as to defendants' cold- bloodedness and lack of remorse in committing crimes that bespoke a complete  lack of compassion for their victims."

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 lost his life 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.

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. 

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