EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

September 18, 2013

Calif. killer awaiting trial in 1988 Andover rape case armed himself at Middleton Jail


Lu did not issue any ruling on the motion to dismiss yesterday.

Underwood initially came into the courtroom with both hands shackled to a black box and chain around his waist. He asked Lu if one of his hands could be freed so he could sift through legal paperwork. However, after a discussion with Anthony Turco Jr., a sheriff’s department supervisor in the courtroom, it was decided Underwood would remain handcuffed but his cuffs would be removed from the waist chain and black box while he was in the courtroom.

“I would strongly urge your honor to leave handcuffs on both hands,” Turco said.

The charge of aggravated rape carries a penalty of life in prison.

In May 2011, when Underwood was initially arraigned, his trial was supposed to be held before Sept. 22, 2011, under the terms of an interstate agreement reached between California and Essex County.

But, under the state rule concerning his right to a speedy trial, the time between court appearances can be excluded if the delay is caused or requested by the defense. This allowed Underwood to stay in the state longer.

Underwood was convicted on Dec. 19, 1997, in California for the first degree murders of Mandi Scott, 15, and Rosalie Ortega, 20, in August 1991.

His alleged ties to the Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire remained secret until 2011 when local detectives, using a national DNA database, matched genetic materials to samples taken from the Andover victim on May 20, 1988.

The then 24-year-old woman was driving home to Lowell on River Road in Andover when Underwood allegedly forced her car off the road, punched her in the face and ordered her at knifepoint into his truck. The woman was beaten and sexually assaulted as Underwood allegedly drove north and into southern New Hampshire. Just past the toll booths in Hampton, Underwood is accused of driving off the highway and stabbing the woman in the abdomen. The blade on his knife broke off.

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