My good bro' from hanging out on Telegraph Ave from 87-92. He had a bit of a drug problem as certain loved ones did but he was a peaceful wonderful soul! I think it was 1991 when he passed on. There was an incident with a van of family coming down a mountain outside of Santa Cruz. The brakes failed. George had to help the petite and very pregnant girl, Carrie, who was trying to keep the vehicle on the road. He leaned across and guided the vehicle around the curves but it eventually rolled. He saved them from going off the side of the road! He also shielded Carrie from harm but got crushed under the van after going through the window in the process. I still have one of his tye-dyes the others gave me after the accident. I think about him often. He'll always be with us.
Are you kind?
Man pleads no contest in 2000 rest-stop slaying
By Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press
Kristin Ann Laurite, 25, of Scotch Plains, N.J., found dead at the Morrilton rest stop in 2000. The Montanta prisoner accused of killing her pleaded no contest Tuesday in her death.
LITTLE ROCK — A Montana prisoner pleaded no contest Tuesday to killing a New Jersey woman nearly seven years ago as she was stopped at an Interstate 40 rest stop in central Arkansas on a cross-country trip.
Ronald James Ward, who is serving life in prison for another killing, was linked to the slaying of 25-year-old Kristin Laurite through DNA five years after the woman was stabbed repeatedly, sexually assaulted and left to die at the rest stop near Morrilton.
Ward, 40, was arrested last year while in prison and returned to Arkansas over the weekend for his Conway County court appearance Tuesday.
He initially told the court he would plead guilty. But after talking to a public defender, Ward changed his plea. He acknowledged he was responsible for Laurite’s death, although he claimed he couldn’t remember it because he had been high on “******, moonshine and *******,” Prosecutor Tom Tatum said.
AP/Montana Department of Corrections
Ronald James Ward pleaded no contest to the 2000 rest-stop slaying of a New Jersey woman.
Tatum described Ward as a drifter who moved between West Virginia and Montana. Sentencing is tentatively scheduled for Thursday. The prosecutor said Ward had agreed to a life sentence.
Laurite’s mother Lynn DiBenedetto expressed love for her daughter, and relief.
“Finally, justice will be served for the brutal murder of my daughter,” DiBenedetto said in an e-mail to reporters. “Although the pain never goes away, I will finally get some peace of mind knowing that this alleged predator will never again be a part of society.”
Laurite left her New Jersey home on a trip to Eureka, Calif., planning to take a job at a day-care center along California’s north coast. By Aug. 25, 2000, she made it to Arkansas, stopping her yellow 1972 Volkswagen van at the Morrilton rest stop to splash water on her face and let her dogs play at a nearby pond.
The next day, truckers noticed one of Laurite’s dogs running loose. The trucker called the number on the dog’s tag, finding Laurite’s mother. Laurite’s dogs led officers to her body, dragged down toward the pond.
The rest stop, where another murder occurred three years earlier, was closed by the state, and Laurite’s family put up a billboard along the well-traveled highway with a picture of the slain young woman. The image remained up for years, with the plea: “Do you know who murdered me?”
Tatum said he was “surprised” by the no contest plea.
“I figured we would be in for a long trial because the investigation took place over so many years,” Tatum said. “I think it helped the family quite a bit and it certainly helped the state, too.”
Morrilton lawyer John Irwin said Ward didn’t understand the judge’s explanation about the consequences of representing himself so the judge appointed Irwin to represent the Montana convict.
“His education level is about fourth grade. He is not dumb. He is unlearned,” Irwin said. “The easiest thing to do would be to have a lawyer.”
Citing lawyer-client confidentiality, Irwin declined to talk about other aspects of the case. _______________
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He was a freind of mine. Many of you will remember Mikel for his stickers, set list hand-outs and newsletters, and some of you will remember Mikel as one of the most kind and gentle souls you ever met. I didn't know him well, but Mikel was the kind of person who was sincerely kind and somehow made you feel special to him the instant that you met him. Mikel became the first person I would look for at a show, and I know I'm sepaking for many of you, because I stood in his own little "hug lines" many times. I will never forget Mikel. He taught me to try to pour as much kindness and compassion as you humanly can on others. He was a friend of mine.