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|Born||Richard Kenneth Djerf
November 6, 1969
|Criminal penalty||On Death Row|
|Date||September 14, 1993|
|Weapons||Guns and knives|
Richard Kenneth Djerf (born November 6, 1969) is an American mass murderer, currently on death row in Florence, Arizona. His case is often compared with that of John List, with the exception that Djerf killed someone else’s family.
On September 14, 1993, Djerf went on a seven-hour frenzy of violence, experimenting with various methods of killing before he resorted to shooting and stabbing to death four members of a former friend's family.
Djerf admitted to killing Albert Luna Sr., 46; his wife, Patricia, 40; and their two children, 17-year-old Rochelle, whom he also raped; and 5-year-old Damien. The only surviving member of the family was Albert Luna Jr., Djerf's former friend.
The case is significant for multiple reasons. First, under a rule 11 law Djerf insisted on his right to fire his legal counsel and represent himself. Djerf had to fight for the right to legally represent himself in court so that he could forgo a trial and enter a guilty plea. His case is often cited in self-representation cases where it is not in the best interest for a client to represent himself or herself as long as the person can prove competency.
Djerf also pleaded guilty rather than face a jury of his peers.
Djerf believed Albert Luna, Jr., the family’s eldest son, had burgled his house. Luna Jr. confessed to the crime during Djerf’s trial.
On September 14, 1993, Djerf showed up at the Luna home with flowers, and then forced himself in at gunpoint. Patricia Luna and her 5-year-old son Damien were at home. Djerf secured Mrs. Luna and her son by tying their arms and legs and gagging them. When Rochelle Luna arrived several hours later, Djerf took her to her bedroom where he raped and killed her. When Albert Luna, Sr. arrived at home, Djerf forced him into his bedroom at gunpoint. Djerf handcuffed Mr. Luna to a bed and smashed his head with a baseball bat, then removed the handcuffs because he believed Mr. Luna was dead. Djerf then returned to the kitchen with Mrs. Luna and Damien. Mr. Luna regained consciousness and charged Djerf. Djerf killed Mr. Luna, then shot Mrs. Luna and Damien in the head.
Before he left, Djerf spread gasoline around the house. He then turned on the stove and left a pizza box on the burner, but the house didn't burn.
The judge who sentenced Djerf to death in 1996 said that Djerf had "relished" the time he spent killing the Luna family to get revenge against his friend for burglarizing his apartment.
There were four death sentence rulings. Djerf scoffed at the multiple death sentences, saying, "They can only kill me once."
The Arizona Supreme Court rejected Djerf's appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear it. A warrant of execution was issued by the Arizona Supreme Court in February 2002. The U.S. District Court issued a stay one month later.
Djerf is still under appeal. Under Ring v. Arizona the Supreme Court ruled that only a jury, not a judge, could hand down the death penalty. That put Djerf’s case on permanent hold until the Supreme Court clarified its ruling in Schriro v. Summerlin. Ironically, all three of these far reaching cases—Ring, Summerlin, and Djerf—are all Arizona capital murder cases.
A book and documentary are under way about Djerf, his crime and his time on death row. He is incarcerated at Arizona State Prison Complex – Eyman on death row.
Quotes attributed to Djerf
"It was all my fault, all my fault," Djerf told an Arizona Republic reporter in 1995 before he was sentenced to death.
"I'm not crazy. I don't hear voices. I didn't have a terrible childhood. I just did what I did."
"Then something took over. I'm not saying I got possessed, I guess I just lost control. Everything was, like, speeded up. It wasn't drugs, it was just me."
"Of course I regret it," Djerf said in 1995. "I wish I'd taken someone with me that day and they'd have talked me out of it."