EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 23, 2013

Killer awaiting trial in Andover rape case transferred from Middleton

ANDOVER — A twice convicted murderer awaiting trial in a 25-year-old Andover case was transferred from the county jail in Middleton to a maximum security state prison due to behavioral issues, Sheriff Frank Cousins confirmed yesterday.

Valentine Underwood was extradited from California prison to Essex County in May 2011 to be prosecuted for the aggravated rape and kidnapping of a woman on River Road in Andover in 1988.

Underwood, who was convicted of killing two young women in California, was held in solitary confinement for two years at Middleton Jail. Cousins said Underwood was recently transferred to MCI Cedar Junction because “he was starting to get a little agitated.”

Cedar Junction is better suited to handle Underwood, who was subject to 23 hours in solitary lockdown at Middleton Jail, Cousins said.

Underwood is considered so dangerous, any time he came out of his cell — to exercise, walk around in the jail yard or go to the library — the movement of inmates in the rest of Middleton Jail was restricted. Underwood is a 6-foot, 9-inch former military basketball star.

“He was held in a segregation unit for over two years. He was heading towards a disciplinary problem. A change of scenery will do him well,” Cousins said.

In related news, a superior court judge recently ruled that in September, when he returns to court, Underwood may personally argue his motion to dismiss, although he is represented by defense attorney Joseph Collins.

Underwood is trying to get the Andover indictments dismissed, saying Essex County Grand Jury members were told he was previously convicted of rape. He claims he was not. Also, the aggravated rape law he is charged under did not exist in 1988 when the alleged offense occurred — another reason Underwood wants the charges dismissed.

The maximum sentences for both aggravated rape and kidnapping are life in prison.

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