Times, October 7, 1997

Tape Portrays Slain Girl's Role in Beating
By Greg Krikorian, Staff Writer

Courts: Recording reveals that youngster took part in violent ritual a few weeks before she was killed.

In a chilling prelude to a gruesome crime, a 5-year-old girl participated in a brutal, tape-recorded beating of another youngster only weeks before she was murdered in a ritual to rid her of the devil, a Los Angeles jury heard Monday.

The 45-minute recording, in which an 11-year-old's anguished cries could be heard amid a hellish chorus of "Jesus Loves Me," opened the third day of the trial of two women accused of killing Breeann Spickard in July 1996 at an apartment in Baldwin Hills. . . .

Authorities allege that [Deborah Elizabeth] Reynolds paddled her daughter so savagely that the girl died of internal injuries, while [Julia Ann] Olivas and [Esther Rebecca] Griggs held the girl down during the beating, which spanned hours over the Fourth of July weekend. During the attack, Reynolds testified, Griggs shoved her foot in the young girl's mouth to stop her from crying and, at another point, the 180-pound Olivas jumped on the prone girl's back to "finish" her killing.

. . . Her lower body, other testimony showed, had been so ravaged by the beating that several layers of skin were stripped away from her buttocks.

Despite the grisly scene, Baldwin Hills police testified Monday, Griggs acted as if nothing was awry when they arrived at her apartment after being called by Reynolds, who fled after the beating to her parents' home. . . .

Later, [homicide Det. John] View testified, he recovered not only the paddle used in the fatal beating but a recording of an earlier assault in which the dead girl used the same paddle to repeatedly beat Griggs' 11-year-old daughter at the direction of Olivas.

. . . Then, for about 45 minutes, [the tape] consists of a long beating of Griggs' daughter by the 5-year-old, who is urged on by Olivas.

Asked repeatedly to explain the purpose of the beating, the young girl is told by Olivas that she is helping rid the 11-year-old girl of the devil.

"The devil just doesn't like you," Olivas tells the young girl.

"How come?" the girl asks.

"Because you're doing a good deed and he doesn't want to let [the 11-year-old girl] go, cuz he says she belongs to him," Olivas says.

Over time, the beating becomes progressively louder. So do the cries of the 11-year-old, who pleads time and again for the paddling to end.

Then, for almost 10 minutes, the attack continues as Olivas and several children, including the 5-year-old, can be heard singing several religious songs, including "Jesus Loves Me."

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