In his opening statement in Anthony McKnight's death penalty trial in Alameda County Superior Court, prosecutor Jim Meehan told jurors, "This case is not about happy endings" because there were "missed opportunities" that allowed McKnight to stay out of custody and continue on a lengthy crime spree.
Meehan said one factor that allowed McKnight to stay free was a prosecutor's decision in late 1984 not to charge McKnight in two separate attacks on prostitutes because of a lack of evidence.
Additionally, Meehan said, blood-testing techniques in the mid-1980s weren't as sophisticated as they are now. DNA tests in the late 1990s ultimately tied McKnight to the murders, he said.
McKnight, 54, was convicted in August 1987 of 11 counts, including attempted murder, mayhem, kidnapping and forced oral copulation, for attacks on six prostitutes between 1984 and his arrest in January 1986.
His current trial stems from his indictment on June 24, 1999, that he murdered five women between September and December of 1985.
McKnight's alleged victims were Diane Stone, 17, Talita Dixon, 13, Monique Franchone Davis, 18, Beverly Ann Bryant, 24, and Betty Lynn Stuart, 22.
All were sexually assaulted before they were killed, Meehan said.
He said they all were viciously stabbed or beaten with blunt objects such as a tire iron.