Rudi Apelt, a German national whose brutal murder of a local woman led to a death sentence in 1989, got a reprieve from death row in May after his lawyers convinced a judge that he is mentally retarded.
But Apelt won't be getting out of prison anytime soon. Yesterday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sylvia Arellano ruled that Apelt's sentences for murder and conspiracy should run consecutively -- meaning he won't be up for parole for another about 30 years.
That decision was a blow to Apelt's defense team, who had hoped Arellano would take pity on the "retarded" prisoner and change the sentences so they ran concurrently. That would allow Apelt to get a shot at parole in just five short years.
Arellano announced that not only did she believe such a change to be outside her purview, but that the facts didn't warrant it.
It was a huge victory for Kathy Monkman, the younger sister of Apelt's victim.
Monkman, who owns a business in Tempe, is (full disclosure) both a friend and an occasional New Times contributor. She took the stand to argue passionately that her sister's killer was a dangerous man.
As Paul Rubin detailed in this cover story, Apelt and his younger brother, Michael, came to Phoenix with the stated goal of finding rich American women to marry. They wooed Cindy Monkman, and after she married Michael, convinced her to take out a fat life insurance policy.
Then they killed her. They beat her, stomped on her, and Rudi slit her throat.
Then, nearly 20 years later, both brothers claimed they were retarded, and therefore not eligible for the death penalty. Judge Arellano, wisely, ruled against Michael Apelt's claim.
Rudi's case was harder. As Arellano noted in May, he'd shown developmental disabilities from an early age. But, as Kathy Monkman says, he was also an incredibly dangerous man.
"How much more of a danger to society is there than a guy who would slit someone's throat, steal their credit card, and then enjoy a meal with it?" Monkman told New Times. "This is a man with a consistent history over his entire adult life of violence against women." (In fact, back in Germany years before he met Cindy Monkman, Rudi Apelt did five years in prison for a violent rape.)
Keli B. Luther, senior counsel with Arizona Voice for Crime Victims, was in the court room with Monkman. She says that she got "goosebumps" during Monkman's statement to the court.
"I think it was Kathy's victim-impact statement that reminded people of why we were there, and how dangerous he is," Luther says.
We found Monkman's statement so incredibly touching that we decided to share it with you. Partly thanks to this statement, a killer won't be back on the streets any time soon.
Why have I chosen to take time out of my busy schedule once again to drive to Florence to give this impact statement? I ask myself the same question as I honestly don't think anything I have to say will make much difference or cause much impact toward the decision on resentencing this defendant but the question always is "can I live with myself if certain decisions are made and know I've said nothing?
So, here I am with a few things to say.
I don't intend to get in to the impact this crime itself has had on me personally or on my family. Partly because I don't think it's necessary at this stage and partly because I think it could potentially do more harm than good. I'll let you fill in the blanks on how losing your only
sister/ your oldest daughter on the day before Christmas impacts on a family. To a vicious senseless murder for money.
I will tell you the impact of this particular hearing and decision over the last several years has had and has the potential to have on me and my family.
When the men who murdered my sister in this cold blooded plot were sentenced to death, we were told there were two options in the State of AZ -- Life with the possibility of parole in 25 years and Death which meant they would never get out of prison. Of course, no matter how we might have felt politically about the death penalty, we knew these were young men and would still be as violent and dangerous in 25 years, perhaps more so and the Death Penalty was the only sentence that insured the public's and our safety from them forever. We were
warned that in time, the tables would turn, the victim would be forgotten and the murderers would be seen as victims. Well that time has come, over 20 years after the loss of my sister. It's still hard to fathom but it's the absolute reality now.
I am here to remind the court who the true victim of this crime was, and still is. It was my sister Cindy who was my only sister, fourteen months older than me, whose life was taken for one motive: money. On the day before we were to fly home for Christmas on Christmas eve 1988. I was 29 years old and she was 30. We grew up together with each other to lean on as we lost our mother at a very young age. She was kind and truly an innocent and the defense in both trials could produce no evidence about her in a derogatory way -- there simply was none. She was like a lamb to slaughter with the men who murdered her -- Rudi and Michael Apelt.
The victim was not and still is not the man, Rudi Apelt, who is being resentenced today. The man who wielded the knife that slashed Cindy's throat from ear to ear leaving her to be discovered by a young boy in the desert on Christmas Eve.. Rudi Apelt, who has served another prison sentence for a violent rape of another woman in Germany. Rudi Apelt
who conned many women throughout the Phoenix area during the months prior to the murder of my sister for money, use of their car, a living situation in their home, procurement of goods, all of these actions performed ALONE and not in the presence of his brother or any other familiar person to him. All of these facts are clearly documented in the trial transcripts. He is a violent man, a repeat offender and took the life of my sister for money. I do not believe he demonstrates any signs of mental retardation in the commission of this crime--quite
the contrary, in fact. Sophisticated, calculated and cold-blooded homicide are not adjectives I would ascribe to the mentally retarded.
I am here also to tell you the impact that just this one hearing lasting several years has had on my family. My 78-year-old father was required to testify and cancel a prepaid trip to China because the Court would not consider a 2-week postponement of the original hearing
for this which he was required to testify at. This postponement was the one and only thing my family ever asked of this Court in the many YEARS leading up to this hearing and it was not granted. This was perhaps my father's only opportunity to go to China for the rest of his lfe.
Yet the defense in this case was granted delay after delay over a period of years causing me and my family to be inconvenienced, put plans on hold, prepare ourselves emotionally only to be told yet another delay for the defense for years upon years.
I opened my door one December day, 3 years go, ironically the same day I was planning to decorate my house for Christmas which you can imagine what a task that is for me year after year seeing my sister's bloody body was discovered in the desert on Christmas Eve morning, only to find an advocate for Rudi Apelt misrepresenting herself to me and asking for my cooperation with this very issue--the mental retardation hearing. And this advocate bald-faced lied to me in my own home assuring me that this murderer, if reversed in sentence, would be
resentenced to life WITHOUT parole. Yes of course she knew this was impossible due to sentencing guidelines yet chose to manipulate me in this way. What did I or my family ever do to deserve this kind of treatment? Laws have been changed now to disallow the abuse of victims in this manner in the State of AZ because of this heinous situation I endured.
My father and I endured sitting in a courtroom often being the only representatives on the side of the State while onlookers filled the side of the defendant hoping obviously to glean some kind of clues for arguing their murderer clients were also mentally retarded to avoid the ultimate penalty.
I have personally learned that in addition to the tides of sympathy swinging away from the murder victim to the murderer over the years that the "worst of the worst" in our society, once on Death Row, receive the "best of the best" when it comes to legal assistance. I am
convinced that a death row inmate has a greater chance of being released from prison than a "lifer" serving a term for a nonviolent crime, simply because more people care about those on Death Row. The murderers also receive free websites which read like singles ads soliciting donations, penpals, wives and the like. When the "serial shooter" claimed to desire the death penalty in his sentencing hearing this year, I completely understood what was motivating him -- and it most certainly wasn't a possibility of execution.
My one consolation with this preposterous ruling/resentencing is that finally Rudi Apelt will receive what he deserves. Which is to be forgotten, finally. I have no doubt that those helping so fervently over the years will drop him like a hot potato once he no longer holds the prestige of Death Row status and he will fade in to the woodwork with all the other violent common criminals in the general population. Until of course we are asked to appear at parole hearings. Then we will be forced to remember him and his violence once again. When do we ever
get to let this go? Do we?
Finally, I did not come all the way down here with any delusions that my words would have any true impact whatsoever on the outcome of this hearing. Biases have been shown throughout and I hold no fantasies that my family's feelings and wishes will fall in to consideration. Yet let it be known, we all have a certain degree of terror at the thought of
Rudi Apelt ever being released from prison due to a possible switch to concurrent sentences where he could have the possibility of actually being paroled. Yes that terrifies my family and me personally. This again is the man who took my sister in to the desert, and among other
violent acts, slit her throat. Then enjoyed a celebratory meal with his co-murderer/conspirators at a restaurant using her credit card right after commiting the murder. Call it what you want, but I call that nothing but a DANGER TO SOCIETY. His sentences, at the very least,
need to remain CONSECUTIVE to protect society from his violence. Call him mentally retarded, call him an imbecile, call him an idiot savant, whatever you wish. But call his behavior what it has been: VIOLENT and DANGEROUS.
The reason I did come though is in hopes that down the road, whatever decision is reached as a result of this resentencing hearing is REVIEWED by hopefully a non biased individual who has no political agenda at stake. Then that a sound decision will be made then that will prohibit this dangerous individual Rudi Apelt from ever being released from prison again. And to allow me and my family to finally move forward without ever having to worry about him again. And to hopefully get to begin to live a life where we get to focus on remembering my sister's life and not her violent death.