Paul Philip Halpin, a veteran Los Angeles County prosecutor who won two famous murder trials, died on July 25 from cancer. He was 65.
Halpin graduated from the UCLA law school in 1964. He was only 29 years old when he was given the tough retrial of the Onion Field case. Jimmy Lee Smith and Gregory Powell were convicted of kidnapping two Los Angeles police officers, and murdering one of them in a California onion field. Their sentences were overturned in 1967 based on the Supreme Court’s Miranda ruling.
Halpin won a second murder conviction against Smith in 1968. The case later spawned a best-selling true crime book by Joseph Wambaugh, and a feature film starring James Woods and Ted Danson.
In 1989, Halpin again tackled a tough murder case in his vigorous prosecution of Richard “Night Stalker” Ramirez, a self-proclaimed Satanist and serial killer who murdered more than a dozen people in Los Angeles from 1984-1985. After nine months of testimony, 537 pieces of evidence and 139 witnesses, Ramirez was found guilty of 13 counts of murder and 30 other charges including attempted murder, burglary, robbery, rape and sodomy. Ramirez was sentenced to death.