FILE - This undated file photo provided by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office shows Rodney Halbower. A Northern California jury has started its deliberations in the murder trial of a career criminal authorities believe is the Gypsy Hill Killer. San Mateo County jurors started deliberating late Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, after eight days of testimony in Redwood City, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of San Francisco. Halbower is charged with raping and killing two teenage women in 1976 in the quiet suburbs just south of San Francisco. (San Mateo County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

California jury: Career criminal guilty of killing 2 teens

September 18, 2018 - 5:25 pm

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California jury on Tuesday found guilty a career criminal thought to be the "Gypsy Hill Killer" of raping and murdering two teenage girls.

The San Mateo County trial began Sept. 7 with 69-year-old Rodney Halbower disrupting the prosecutor's opening statements.

"I am not guilty!" he yelled at the jury. "I have never raped or murdered in my life!"

The judge declined public defender John Halley's calls for a mistrial and Halbower ceased his outbursts.

"He doesn't get to set up his own mistrial," Judge Mark Forcum said.

Authorities believe Halbowber raped and killed six young women over a five-month period in early 1976 in Northern California and Reno, Nevada.

DNA evidence led to Halbower's arrest in 2014. He was in prison in Oregon at the time.

Prosecutors said they charged him with the two murders with the strongest evidence and expected he would be locked up for life if convicted.

Prosecutor Sean Gallagher told the jury about the two teen girls who were abducted, raped and killed in a once-tranquil suburb, and that DNA from semen found in both women and preserved for decades matched Halbower's DNA. One of the victims was stabbed to death and the other was beaten in the head with concrete and stabbed in her heart.

Authorities in the 1970s said the killings were linked and dubbed the attacker the Gypsy Hill Killer for the location where one of the first victims was found. Halbower is also suspected of raping and killing a nursing student in Reno during the same period as the five California killings.

"I wasn't here during that period of time," Halbower yelled out, interrupting Gallagher's opening statement.

Gallagher responded that Halbower's statement wasn't true because he was living in the nearby city of San Bruno in early 1976