Buddhist Temple Murders Killer's Conviction Overturned by Ninth Circuit Court

The nightmare of the 1991 massacre at a Phoenix Buddhist temple resurfaced today after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of the triggerman in the slayings, Jonathan Doody (pictured above with his lawyer).

The Associated Press reports that the appeals court judges found Doody's 1991 confession was coerced by police.

Longtime Valley residents will recall that the coerced confessions of the four men originally arrested for the murders led to the ouster of then-Sheriff Tom Agnos. Joe Arpaio stepped in to run against a politically weakened Agnos, promising to serve only for one term. Arpaio won his fifth four-year term earlier this month.

As part of its coverage today, the Arizona Republic's Web site posted the newspaper's original 1991 article about the slaying that shocked Buddhists worldwide as well as the Valley community.

New Times covered the slayings and their legal and political aftermath extensively in the early 1990s -- here are a couple of examples.

Evidence and testimony at the trial of Doody seemed to show he was the murderer -- his confession may have been forced, but it apparently wasn't sheer fiction like the confessions of the "Tucson Four." The government clearly needs to take steps to make sure the appeals court decision doesn't allow Doody, as cold-blooded a killer as they come, to walk out of prison. -- Ray Stern

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern