Dallas Man Convicted In Cold-Case Rape, Murder of Student

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A jury in Dallas County weighed in this week on the rape and murder of a Southern Methodist University Student that occurred over two decades ago.

After deliberating for only about an hour, the jury returned a verdict of guilty for Donald Andrew Bess, who killed 20-year-old sorority girl Angela Samota by stabbing her over a dozen times. Bess, who is now 61, is already serving a life sentence for another rape in the Houston area.

Samota was murdered after a night spent dancing at clubs with her friends, according to testimony. She stopped to visit her boyfriend, Ben McCall, on the way home, at approximately 2 a.m. McCall had to work the next day, however, so the pair chatted briefly, and then Samota left and went home to her off-campus condominium. A little while later, Samota telephoned McCall to tell him that a stranger was in her apartment, asking to use the telephone and the bathroom. Saying that she would call him right back, she hung up. That was the last that McCall—or anyone—heard from Angela Samota.

According to the coroner’s report, Bess raped Samota—his semen was found inside her—and then stabbed her 18 times in the chest. Ten of those stab wounds were through the young woman’s heart and lungs. Authorities believe that Bess used one of the knives from Samota’s kitchen during the attack, although the murder weapon was never recovered.

McCall called his girlfriend several times, but never got an answer; he then drove the condo and banged on her door, again receiving no response. Police arrived on the scene and entered the apartment, where they found the student’s body on her bed, naked and bloodied.

The case had grown cold until Samota’s sorority sisters asked police to re-open it. In 2008, DNA testing linked Bess to the crime, and he was charged with the rape and murder.

Defense attorneys Robbie McClung, Richard Franklin and John Tatum did not attempt to deny the fact that DNA evidence recovered from the semen pointed to Bess, but they did try to cast doubt as to the connection between the sexual contact and the murder.

“Do we have to become such a knee-jerk society that just because we find semen, does it mean that person is a murderer?” asked McClung during closing arguments. Yet the jury agreed with lead prosecutor Pat Kirlin, who faced Bess and said, “You and no one else … are responsible.”

Bess has not yet been sentenced. Defense attorneys are expected to ask that the jury take into consideration the convicted man’s ill health, including a recent heart attack that delayed the trial for several days.

 

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