Court keeps death sentence for Runnion killer

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Updated: 6/30 9:43 pm

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — The California Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty of the man convicted in 2005 of the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion.

The court found Monday that 39-year-old former biotech factory worker Alejandro Avila received a fair trial despite the pretrial publicity his attorneys said prejudiced the public against him.

The court ruled that even if it accepted the unlikelihood that Avila could've received a fair trial in Orange County, the trial was in fact fair.

Runnion had been playing with friends outside the condominium complex when she was abducted in July, 2002.

Her body was found the next day.

©2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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