Ex-hippie guru convicted of 1977 murder

Philadelphia jury decides Einhorn bludgeoned his girlfriend to death

October 18, 2002|By Hugo Kugiya | Hugo Kugiya,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PHILADELPHIA - After hiding in Europe and eluding authorities for 16 years, hippie-era guru Ira Einhorn was found guilty yesterday of murdering his former girlfriend, Holly Maddux, 25 years ago.

A Philadelphia jury deliberated less than two hours before convicting Einhorn of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without chance of parole.

Einhorn, 62, showed no emotion at the verdict, which drew smiles from the family of his victim. Maddux's three sisters and brother attended every day of the trial. Her parents died before Einhorn was captured.

"We've all known in our hearts, and more importantly in our minds, that Ira Einhorn killed Holly," said sister Meg Wakeman. "I feel lighter than I have in the last 25 years."

Einhorn declined to speak. His lawyer, William Cannon, said Einhorn will appeal the conviction.

Jury forewoman Diane Green called the evidence against Einhorn "overwhelming."

"We felt he conflicted some of his own statements," she said.

It was the second time Einhorn was convicted by a Pennsylvania court of Maddux's murder. He was tried in absentia in 1993, convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, but remained at large for four years.

In the 1970s, Einhorn associated himself with the peace movement, environmentalism and civil rights. He offered himself as a cultural consultant to corporate executives.

He was arrested in March 1979, after police discovered Maddux's partially mummified body in his one-room apartment, stuffed in a locked steamer trunk in the back of a padlocked closet.

An autopsy found she had suffered at least six crushing blows to her head. She had been missing since September 1977.

Prosecutors argued that Einhorn killed her in a rage, angry that she was breaking off their relationship, jealous that she had become involved with another man.

He disappeared the day before his trial was to begin in January 1981, fleeing to Europe. For the next 16 years, he eluded authorities. Fearing the erosion of its case, state prosecutors tried him in absentia. That jury's verdict came quickly.

Police found him four years later, posing as a British writer and living on a farm in France, married to a Swedish-born woman who had helped him hide. A French court allowed his extradition in July 2001, after prosecutors agreed to a new trial and promised he would not face the death penalty.

Einhorn was the last witness to testify in the nearly three-week trial. He said he loved Maddux and they were accustomed to long separations and frequent break-ups.

The two met in 1972. She moved into his apartment weeks later, beginning a tumultuous, five-year relationship.

Einhorn's lawyer, William Cannon, argued that the evidence, no matter how grisly, was only circumstantial and did not prove he had killed Maddux. He argued that a man as intelligent as Einhorn would not leave incriminating evidence in his home. Einhorn has said the CIA framed him for Maddux's murder.

The prosecution argued that Einhorn had a history of attacking girlfriends when they ended relationships with him. One former girlfriend, Judith Sabot, testified that Einhorn hit her in the head with a bottle and almost strangled her to death in 1965.

Einhorn also had written about the attacks in a diary and in poems, which prosecutors compelled Einhorn to read to the jury. He wrote that "to kill what you love when you can't have it seems so natural," and "violence always marks the end of a relationship."

Hugo Kugiya writes for Newsday, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. Wire services contributed to this article.

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