Trial Begins In Rape, Murder Of 14-Year-Old Girl
Teen’s Body Found In Neighbor’s Yard
PORTLAND — The trial is under way in the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Portland girl whose strangled body was found in a neighbor’s back yard.
Melissa Bittler was attacked Dec. 13, 2001, as she walked to school.
LaDon Stephens, a convicted sex offender, is charged with 31 counts of aggravated murder, rape, sodomy and kidnapping.
Stephens was on parole for a previous conviction when he allegedly raped three girls in 1997 and then raped and killed Bittler in 2001. He was arrested in April 2002 on another rape accusation, and DNA evidence linked him to the Bittler case.
On Monday, the prosecution outlined its case with Bittler’s story and the stories of Stephens’ four other alleged victims. The attorneys claim that evidence, including DNA, injuries and similarities in the method of assault, points to Stephens.
“You’re going to learn that a valid profile was obtained from that evidence and that the attacker was the same person that attacked Melissa Bittler,” prosecuting attorney Rod Underhill said in court.
KOIN 6 News reporter Eric Taylor, who was in court Monday, said it’s a sad, tragic and graphic case that could last months.