A Pasadena man accused of killing two women and once convicted of child molestation is scheduled to return to court in Orange County for the 119th time in 12 years in September.
And at the current rate, it could cost taxpayers more than $1 million to house Whitaker before he ever goes to trial .
Currently, it costs the state $75,560 a year to house an inmate, according to a June article in the Los Angeles Times.
That means so far Whitaker has cost the state $906,720, and he is still in the pretrial phase of his trial.
Whitaker himself predicted the case was not open and shut when he called the Pasadena Weekly from jail eight years ago.
“It’s not going to be the duck shoot they thought it would be,” Whitaker once said in a phone interview with the Pasadena Weekly from the Orange County lockup. “It’s not going to be like shooting fish in a bucket.”
So far, Whitaker has been correct. Over the last dozen years since his arrest, the former Pasadena City College student who went by the name John Whitaker Betances and once claimed to be a Vietnam vet who escaped a prisoner of war camp by chewing through a guard’s neck, has avoided trial by constantly changing his lawyer.
The Orange County Superior Court website lists six different attorneys as having represented Whitaker over the past 12 years.
Every time a new lawyer has come onto the case, they have requested time to examine the state’s evidence. One attorney, received months to have DNA evidence reexamined.
In some cases, the new attorneys coming onto the case have requested the DNA evidence be retested.
“It is absolutely taking a long time,” Orange County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Farrah Emani told the Weekly in 2014, shortly before Whitaker’s 99th court appearance. “Defendants have a lot of rights. When their attorneys request continuances, they are often granted by the court.”
His current attorney, Robert Brown, did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office also would not comment.
Whitaker was arrested in 2006 for the murders of Bodil Rasmussen and Patricia Carpenter.
Carpenter, a prostitute, was strangled with her own pantyhose in Laguna Niguel in 1983, and Rasmussen, a clerk with the Santa Monica/Malibu Unified School District, died of strangulation in 1975.
Whitaker’s DNA was found at both crime scenes, according to detectives with the Santa Monica Police Department who reopened the Rasmussen murder case in 2003 after connecting his genetic markers to that crime.
Whitaker, authorities say, was the last person seen with Rasmussen before her body was discovered in a parking lot in 1975. Whitaker, who at the time was 28, was questioned by police, who said he claimed to be a medical student. He was released after questioning.
Witnesses also placed him with Carpenter shortly before her death and his DNA was allegedly found under her fingernails, according to her sister Patricia.