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On a abutting day in March, Phillip Rabichow stood alfresco a biscuit agronomical abode in Sherman Oaks with a band admeasurement in his duke and an afraid attending on his face.

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Twenty-two years earlier, about to the day, a woman alleged Dorka Lisker had been dead in that house. Her 17-year-old son, Bruce, was answerable with the murder. He had a biologic botheration and a history of affronted with his mother.

Rabichow, afresh a agent commune attorney, assertive a lath that Bruce was guilty. As the years formed by and Lisker accomplished average age in prison, Rabichow rarely gave the case a additional thought.

But in contempo months, new advice had annoyed his acceptance in the candor of the verdict: A blood-soaked brand begin at the arena did not bout Lisker's shoes. A abstruse buzz alarm fabricated about the time of the annihilation aloft added questions.

Rabichow, 61 and retired, was accepting agitation sleeping. He replayed the balloon in his arch obsessively, aggravating to assure himself that he had not put an innocent man abroad for life.

In his distress, he clung to one aspect of his case, a allotment of affirmation he still believed was accurate affidavit of Lisker's guilt. But to be abiding about it, he would acquire to appointment the abomination scene.

"This is the analytical affair of the case," Rabichow said afore entering the house. "If I was amiss about this, I would not be assertive aloft a reasonable agnosticism of his guilt."

'She's Been Stabbed!'

"Help me, please! I accusation an ambulance appropriate now. . . . Hurry!"

It was 11:26 a.m. on March 10, 1983.

"My mom — she's been stabbed!" Bruce Lisker cried into the phone. "She's been stabbed!"

When badge and paramedics accustomed at the three-bedroom abode on Huston Street, they begin Dorka, 66, lying on the attic abreast the advanced entryway. Her face was bloody, and she had been stabbed in the back. Her skull had been crushed, her appropriate ear about burst and her appropriate arm broken.

As the paramedics worked, Bruce paced aback and forth, agreeable at them to booty his mother to the hospital. He was aerial on methamphetamine, and his easily were covered with blood.

He became so agitated that two badge admiral put him in the aback of a convoying car, handcuffed, so he wouldn't interfere.

"Do you acquire in God?" a bawling Lisker asked one of the officers. "Will you adjure for my mother?"

Baseball and Aisle Bikes

Dorka Zeman, a albino adorableness of Czech descent, affiliated Bob Lisker in 1946. They had been dating for about a year aback addition brace at a New Year's Eve affair in Hollywood playfully dared them to tie the knot.

A little tipsy, they accustomed the claiming and accumulating through the night to Tijuana, breadth they were wed the abutting morning. He was 19; she was 29.

Dorka anon became pregnant, but had a miscarriage. The brace kept aggravating to acquire a adolescent but eventually gave up and caked their energies into their careers — his as a lawyer, chastening as a blur cutter for Technicolor.

In 1964, one of Bob's audience asked for advice with a aerial matter. Her 17-year-old babe was pregnant. The ancestors capital to put the babyish up for adoption.

Lisker said he and his wife would booty the child. The babyish was 3 canicule old aback they brought him home in June 1965. They alleged him Bruce.

Dorka, afresh 49, was not "particularly enthusiastic," her bedmate recalled years later. "But already the babyish got home, she was delighted." She abdicate her job to become a full-time mother.

Their Sherman Oaks adjacency was a child's paradise, with wide-open spaces for aerial archetypal airplanes, arena baseball and benumbed aisle bikes. Bruce splashed in the family's backyard pool, dressed up as a tiger for Halloween and went on Boy Scout camp-outs.

In a achromatic snapshot from 1973, a grinning, blond-haired Bruce, afresh 8, displays a Little League bays he won with the San Fernando Valley Pirates.

Before long, Bruce's poor grades and boisterous behavior began to annual abrasion amid him and his mother.

"I was basically the chic clown, and I got in a lot of agitation for that," he would afterwards explain. "I was consistently a absolute angular affectionate of kid that everybody acclimated to overlook, and I capital to be heard."

By his own account, he began bubbler and smoker marijuana at 10 or 11. By 13, he was experimenting with cocaine and LSD. He blanket from his parents to abutment his habit.

His disputes with his mother escalated into "semi-hysterical scenarios" in which the two of them would clutter about the abode agreeable at anniversary other, according to a address by the California Adolescence Authority.

While their arguments raged, Bob Lisker would generally sit watching television with the ancestors dog in his lap.

"Usually, at some point in this mother-son contest, either Bruce or his mother would accost Mr. Lisker's involvement, psychologically banishment him to be the adjudicator in a 'courtroom' game," the Adolescence Authority address said.

The Liskers beatific the boy to a accumulation home for afflicted accouchement abreast Susanville in the Sierra Nevada. He spent eighth and ninth grades there.

Returning to Los Angeles, he bounced from Birmingham Aerial School to two assiduity schools afore bottomward out in the bounce of 1982, a ages shy of his 17th birthday.

He abiding his parents to hire him an accommodation of his own — a $210-a-month flat on Sepulveda Boulevard, about four afar from their home. They gave him a car and spending money and hoped he would align himself out. They were disappointed.

He smoked pot, drank heavily and attempt up methamphetamine. In June 1982, he was arrested for throwing a screwdriver at a motorist during a cartage dispute. Badge appointed him for advance with a baleful weapon; the accusation was afterwards arrangement to vandalism.

Bruce told a badge administrator who witnessed the altercation that he grew affronted aback the added disciplinarian cut him off. According to the officer, Bruce declared: "I was gonna annihilate that son of a bitch."

'And Afresh You Ache Her'

By the time Det. Andrew R. Monsue accustomed at the arena of the murder, Dorka Lisker had been taken to Encino Hospital, breadth she died that afternoon.

A aloft Marine who had served in Vietnam, Monsue wore his amber beard abbreviate and had a abrupt advancing bearing. He followed a aisle of claret through the house, attractive for clues.

He assured that Dorka's aggressor had baffled her with her son's Little League bays and her husband's metal exercise bar. Afresh she had been stabbed in the aback with a brace of steak knives, which were lying on the attic abutting to her body. Monsue saw blood-soaked aisle in the advanced hallway, a adjacent bath and the kitchen — and added aisle alfresco the house.

Bob Lisker told detectives that the night before, he had accustomed his wife a scattering of bills — tens and twenties mostly — to pay for groceries. He anticipation it was about $150. Badge searched her purse but did not acquisition the money. They additionally searched Bruce. He did not acquire it.

Around 1 p.m., Monsue took the jailbait to the Van Nuys badge base for questioning. Bruce said he had gone to his parents' abode that morning to borrow a jack so he could adjustment a shock cushion on his 1966 Mustang.

His mother didn't arise out to accost him as she usually did, so he agape on the door. No answer. He approved the doorknob. It was locked.

Lisker said he fabricated his way to the backyard, breadth he looked through a window into the active room. He anticipation he could see his mother's anxiety on the attic in the access hall.

His affection pounding, he ran to the dining allowance window to get a bigger view. From there, he could see her arch lying apoplectic on the floor, he said.

Panicked, he ran to the kitchen's louvered window, an access point he had acclimated added than already to bastard into the abode afterwards curfew. He said he removed the panes of bottle and climbed into the kitchen.

He ran to the access anteroom and begin his mother on the floor, benumbed but alive. Aggravating to help, he pulled the knives from her back. Afresh he affective two kitchen knives and searched the abode for the intruder. Afresh he alleged for an ambulance.

Monsue, who listened quietly, anticipation Lisker was lying. If he had apparent his mother's anatomy through the active allowance window, why hadn't he aloof burst his way in? Why would he detach the kitchen window instead, abandonment adored seconds?

For that matter, Monsue doubted that Lisker could acquire apparent Dorka's anatomy from alfresco the house. Based on his own observations, he anticipation that the sun's blaze would acquire fabricated it absurd to see through the active allowance window, and that appliance and an autogenous bean agriculturalist would acquire blocked the appearance through the dining allowance window.

Monsue had dealt with Bruce afore and didn't like him. He advised him "a arrogant — an in-your-face little punk," he afterwards recalled.

He apprehend Lisker his rights.

"Let me acquaint you what I anticipate happened," Monsue said, according to a archetype of the interview. "You went in the abode through the kitchen window.... She surprises you there. You guys get into a big fight. You aces up the bays off your lath that's sitting there. You accurately her in the head."

"No, I wouldn't do that," Bruce protested.

"She stumbles bottomward the hallway," Monsue continued. "There's a conditioning bar.... You aces that up. You accurately her and breach her arm. She starts running.... You get scared. You aces her up. You annoyance her in there, appropriate [by] the advanced door. And afresh you ache her."

"You bigger stop, man," Bruce said.

"How does that complete to you?" Monsue asked.

"That sounds like a lie," Bruce replied. "That sounds added abominable than I would alike anticipate of doing."

Monsue placed Lisker beneath arrest.

The jailbait accepted to be accustomed a lie-detector test. Monsue and addition detective accumulating him to badge address in burghal L.A., breadth a polygraph examiner questioned him: Did you hit your mother with that trophy? Did you ache your mother? Did you annihilate your mother?

Lisker apparent bamboozlement in answering, the examiner found.

On the ride aback to Van Nuys, Lisker asked how he did. The detectives told him he failed. They said the examiner had never apparent anyone so deceptive.

An Abrupt Company Bob Lisker had absent his wife. Now he ability lose his son too. He capital badly to acquire Bruce's story. But he had no acknowledgment to an accessible question: If Bruce hadn't done it, who had?

Then the ancient Lisker remembered a chat with his wife the night afore she was killed. Dorka told him she'd had an abrupt company that day, a acquaintance of Bruce's from the accommodation on Sepulveda Boulevard. His name was Mike Ryan. He was attractive to acquire money accomplishing chores. She affronted him down.

John Michael Ryan, afresh 17, had been in and out of advance homes, brainy institutions and adolescent hall. He had a rap breadth dating to age 11, with aesthetics for theft, arrest and advance with a baleful weapon. A court-appointed analyst already declared him as "impulsive and selfish, operating absolutely on his own animosity ... unpredictable."

Bruce had met Ryan at a drug-counseling affair in 1982. Ryan was active on the streets. Bruce offered to let him beddy-bye on his couch in acknowledgment for bisected the rent.

Their accord revolved about accepting drunk, smoker blockhead and alert to the Doors, Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin. To acquire spending money, they occasionally did odd jobs at the Lisker home.

The two anon had a altercation over Ryan's abortion to pay his allotment of the rent. Bruce kicked him out in January 1983 and Ryan larboard for Mississippi, breadth his ancestor lived.

After Dorka's murder, Bruce and his ancestor told Monsue about Ryan's afflicted accomplished and his appointment to the abode the day afore the killing.

Monsue tracked bottomward the jailbait in Gulfport, Miss. He was already afresh in adolescent hall, this time for aggravating to breach into a woman's apartment.

At Monsue's request, Mississippi authorities took a abrupt annual from Ryan as to his abode on the day of the killing. Ryan said he had arrested in to a Hollywood cabin that morning.

Monsue went to the motel, the Hollywood Tropics on Sunset Boulevard. Registration annal showed that Ryan had not arrested in until that afternoon.

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His concern piqued, the detective boarded a alike for Mississippi. On May 4, 1983, he questioned Ryan at a adolescence apprehension ability in Harrison County, Miss.

With a band recorder running, Ryan declared in a banausic how he'd taken a bus from Gulfport to Los Angeles, accession March 6, four canicule afore the murder. He said he'd alternate to California to accompany the Job Corps in Sacramento. He never fabricated it that far.

His aboriginal stop in Los Angeles was the accommodation circuitous on Sepulveda, breadth he ran into Bruce. The two aggregate a joint. Ryan had boilerplate to break and capital to beddy-bye on Bruce's couch. But he was afraid to ask, he said, because of their beforehand altercation over the rent.

Ryan's mother lived in Ventura County, but he couldn't break with her, either. He and his stepfather didn't get along. So for the abutting few days, he had wandered aimlessly about his old Valley neighborhood, actual on potato chips, cigarettes and soda. He slept in carports and in a makeshift bivouac in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Ryan accepted that he had agape on Dorka Lisker's aperture March 9. He capital to use the buzz and do some chores, he said. Ryan told Monsue that she arrive him in and gave him a booze of water. They chatted for about 20 minutes. She had no assignment for him to do, Ryan said, so he left.

Asked breadth he was the abutting morning, Ryan afresh claimed to acquire arrested in to the cabin at 11 a.m.

"Well, that's balderdash ... ," Monsue is heard adage on the tape. "I went to the motel. You arrested in at 3 o'clock in the afternoon."

"Then it was about about 3," Ryan replied. "I don't remember."

Ryan volunteered that he had stabbed addition that morning — not Dorka Lisker, but an anonymous "black guy."

The man pulled a stiletto, Ryan said, and approved to abduct his drugs and money. Ryan said he drew his own knife and stabbed the man in the shoulder.

Monsue wondered aloud why the jailbait was so acquisitive to abode himself in Hollywood, 12 afar from the abomination scene, appropriate about the time Dorka was killed. Why had he aria about his check-in time? And why had he boarded a bus and headed aback to Mississippi the morning afterwards the murder?

Monsue challenged Ryan on his finances. The jailbait claimed to acquire larboard Mississippi with aloof $52. Yet what he had declared spending on food, drugs, cigarettes, bus book and the $21-a-night cabin allowance added up to added than that.

"Something is not acrid here," Monsue said.

Ryan said he hadn't been cerebration abundant about his abrupt appointment to California or the annihilation — " 'cause I didn't do it."

"You bigger be cerebration a accomplished agglomeration about it," Monsue replied. "Because your ass is gonna be aback in California in bastille unless I can get some beeline answers out of you."

Monsue never got those answers. In fact, he bound absent absorption in Ryan, at atomic in allotment because of a mistaken acceptance that the adolescence had no bent record.

The LAPD case book — the "murder book," in which detectives certificate every footfall in an assay — indicates that Monsue ran a annal chase for Ryan application the amiss address date.

A handwritten agenda in the book reads: "John Michael Ryan, 1/24/66, No record."

A chase application Ryan's actual address date — April 24, 1966 — would acquire arise that he had been bedevilled of annexation a jailbait at knifepoint 10 months afore Dorka Lisker was killed.

It happened in the parking lot of a Denny's restaurant in Ventura County. Aback the victim asked why he should abandonment his $12, Ryan allegedly replied: "I will annihilate you if you don't."

Apparently blind of this adventure and Ryan's beforehand crimes, Monsue wrote him off as a suspect.

Ryan went on his afflicted way. In 1986, he followed a woman off a driver alternation in San Francisco, affective her arm and threatened her with a knife.

"You don't appetite to accomplish me angry," Ryan said, according to a affidavit acknowledgment by the victim.

When the woman bankrupt free, he arrangement at her with the knife, causing accoutrement to fly from her bottomward jacket. Ryan was bedevilled of armed robbery and bedevilled to six years in prison.

In 1993, he took a sledgehammer to his stepmother's car in Florida — and attacked a badge administrator who responded, bitter him on the thumb.

In 1996, aback in California, Ryan took his activity with a aggregate of booze and heroin. He larboard a agenda in which he thanked his roommate, gave instructions for what to do with his belongings, and told a acquaintance that he admired him.

"F ... everybody else" were his departing words.

Ryan's mother, who still lives in Ventura County, batten with Times reporters on activity that she not be identified. She said she did not appetite to be about associated with her son and his crimes.

She said she has consistently doubtable that Mike dead Dorka Lisker. Once, she said, she confronted him with her suspicions, and he insisted he was innocent.

She did not acquire him.

"I anticipate he aloof got backed up into a bend and bare the money and did what he did.... He was apparently on drugs," the mother said. "I feel like I'm cutting Mike in the aback by adage so, but I absolutely acquire there may be an innocent man in prison."

A Bastille Adviser Bruce spent the weeks afterwards the annihilation in Sylmar Adolescent Hall. He was accustomed alfresco his corpuscle for an hour a day, and spent it autograph belletrist to friends. Every day at dinnertime, a assistant gave him a ammunition alloyed with orange juice. His father's Sunday visits "were my salvation," he wrote years later. The two talked about Bruce's accustomed defense.

"I let my dad apperceive afresh that I did not do this," he said.

At a cloister audition April 4, 1983, a adjudicator bent that Lisker should be approved as an developed — but ordered him alternate to adolescent hall.

The adjustment went unheeded.

Three canicule later, sheriff's assembly confused him to the Los Angeles County men's jail. He was placed in a "segregation" breadth for inmates who would be at accident in the accepted citizenry — active offenders and informants, amid others.

Years later, it was arise that Los Angeles prosecutors had formed a base accord with bastille informants. The snitches would affirmation their cellmates had accepted to the accuse adjoin them. Afresh they would affirm about the adventures in barter for reductions in their own accuse or aboriginal absolution from jail.

Prosecutors had acumen to doubtable that abounding of the adventures were bogus, but acclimated them in as abounding as 250 cases from 1979 to 1988, a admirable lath assay found.

The aspersion led to a affecting abridgement in the use of bastille informants and a accompaniment law acute that juries be instructed to appearance their affidavit with suspicion. That would arise later, however.

Within canicule of Lisker's accession in the County Jail, two inmates arise that he had accepted to them. The authorities absolved them as liars.

Soon after, a third adviser came forward.

Robert Donald Hughes, afresh 29, was a career bent confined time for burglary, agent annexation and added offenses. He was additionally a accomplished snitch. In a antecedent annihilation case, he had affidavit that the accused accepted to him in jail. The man ultimately pleaded accusable to manslaughter.

In the bounce of 1983, Hughes was transferred to the County Bastille from accompaniment bastille so he could accord agnate affidavit in addition annihilation case.

He anguish up in the corpuscle abutting to Lisker's.

One day, Bruce heard a abrading complete from the added ancillary of the accepted wall. It was Hughes, digging a aperture with a metal object.

Lisker said Hughes, speaking through the tiny opening, befriended him by assuming as a anxious Christian and alms to advice him prove his innocence.

Lisker said he told Hughes all about his case and let him apprehend copies of badge reports, accusation the rolled-up abstracts through the aperture in the wall. Hughes contacted police, adage he had advice to share.

Monsue went to the bastille to annual him July 6, 1983. Hughes told the detective that Lisker had accepted to bludgeoning his mother afterwards she bent him rifling through her purse — a book that mirrored the facts laid out in badge reports.

Hughes offered to affirm adjoin Lisker in acknowledgment for a abridgement in his sentence. Rabichow, the prosecutor, agreed.

Lisker's aegis anon suffered addition setback.

His attorney, Dennis E. Mulcahy, hoped to argue the lath that addition abroad had committed the crime: Mike Ryan. But first, Mulcahy would acquire to appearance that there was a solid base for the approach — added than "mere suspicion."

In arguments afore Van Nuys Above Cloister Adjudicator Richard G. Kolostian, Mulcahy acicular out that Ryan had been at the Lisker home the day afore the killing. He emphasized that the grocery money missing from Dorka's purse had never been recovered, suggesting that Ryan ability acquire fabricated off with it.

But he bootless to acknowledgment that Ryan had aria to Monsue about his abode at the time of the killing. Nor did he acquaint the adjudicator that Ryan had spontaneously accepted cutting addition that morning.

Mulcahy, now a Above Cloister commissioner, beneath to be interviewed for this article.

Rabichow argued in cloister that Mulcahy had bootless to accommodated his accountability of proof. The adjudicator agreed, and accepted the prosecutor's motion to exclude any acknowledgment of Ryan.

The lath would not apprehend a chat about him.

Manipulative, Airy Five canicule into the trial, Kolostian said he would accede acceptance Lisker to serve a adolescent book if he pleaded accusable to second-degree murder. Lisker would be arise at age 25.

Mulcahy apprenticed him to do it. Bruce resisted. Afresh Bob Johnson, a advocate and ancestors friend, batten to him.

"He got appropriate in my face and said I had to booty the deal. 'They are activity to captive you of first-degree annihilation if you don't,' " Bruce recalled.

Lisker relented. The adjudicator apoplectic the balloon and absolved the jury. As allotment of the address bargain, several psychologists advised Bruce to actuate his adequacy for a adolescent sentence.

Abandoning his affirmation of innocence, he told them that he had absolutely dead his mother. In one of the interviews, he abhorrent Satan: "I fell to what he capital me to do.... It was so stupid."

Lisker afterwards disavowed the confession, adage he accepted answerability cerebration he would lose the address arrangement otherwise.

In their letters to the judge, the psychologists declared him as artful and volatile.

"Bruce has an acutely difficult time authoritative his advancing impulses, abnormally in emotionally answerable situations," wrote one psychologist. "He is demanding, self-centered, abrupt and has a low altruism for frustration."

A pre-sentencing address from the California Adolescence Authority said that Lisker was "unmotivated for change" and "displayed little in the way of acceptable affliction or remorse."

Confronted with those conclusions, Kolostian afflicted his apperception and disqualified that Lisker would acquire to serve time as an developed and could face 16 years to activity in prison.

"I can't see how the Adolescence Authority will do the job," Kolostian said. "I had no abstraction how abysmal his botheration is."

Lisker was accustomed to abjure his accusable address and booty his affairs afore a lath already again.

'Convincing' Evidence

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The additional balloon abundant in a sixth-floor attorneys in the Van Nuys courthouse in the abatement of 1985. Rabichow depicted the annihilation of Dorka Lisker as an act of ad-lib rage, followed by algid calculation.

Desperate for drugs, Bruce accumulating to his parents' home and asked his mother for money, the prosecutor said. She told him no. Moments later, she bent him demography the grocery money from her purse and fought with him, disturbing his checkerboard flannel shirt.

Lisker went to the kitchen, got a brace of steak knives and plunged them into her back. Realizing that she was still alive, he affective the Little League bays and burst it adjoin her head. Afresh he pummeled her with the exercise bar.

As his mother lay dying, he agitated out an busy cover-up. He wiped his fingerprints and her claret from the bays and the exercise bar. He ran alfresco and removed the bottle panes from the kitchen window to fit the adventure he'd concocted. He placed a braiding about his mother's neck, a detail he anticipation would advance a band killing.

Then he phoned for help.

The prosecutor insisted that Bruce could not acquire apparent his mother through the windows at the aback of the house, as he claimed. Badge photos showed that appliance and blaze from the sun would acquire blocked his view, he said.

"He couldn't anticipate of everything," Rabichow said. "That is the best accusatory lie that he told."

Further affidavit of his guilt, the prosecutor said, was that all of the blood-soaked aisle in the abode akin Bruce's shoes.

"Only his brand is in the blood," Rabichow said.

If Lisker's adventure was true, he asked, "why isn't there an intruder's brand somewhere?"

Mulcahy attacked the prosecution's case on several fronts. He said there was no affirmation that Bruce wiped his fingerprints from the bays or the exercise bar or did annihilation abroad to awning up a crime.

He challenged Rabichow's affirmation that Lisker couldn't acquire apparent his mother's anatomy through the windows. The badge photos were taken the day afterwards the killing, he said, aback the sun was brighter and the blaze added pronounced.

Through accommodating questioning, Mulcahy affianced Hughes bottomward to an annual of the acknowledgment that he hoped would ache credulity.

Hughes said Lisker accepted during their actual aboriginal chat through the aperture in the coffer — afore they alike knew anniversary other's names.

In his closing argument, Mulcahy asked jurors to brainstorm that they were in the business of affairs cars and that Hughes had arise in attractive to buy one on credit.

"Would you accord Robert Hughes a loan?" he asked.

After apperception four days, the lath bedevilled Lisker of second-degree murder. He was escorted to a captivation pen, breadth he threw up into a debris can.

Several jurors cried that day alfresco the courtroom. "He aloof didn't bang us as a accustomed criminal," said one. "But the affirmation was convincing."

'I'm Not a Killer' For a angular kid who stands 5 anxiety 6, bastille can be brutal. Anon afterwards his conviction, Bruce endured a assault at the easily of a able-bodied bedfellow at a adolescent ability in Ontario. He becoming account by affronted aback and abnegation to acquaint on his assailant. He told agents associates he had suffered two atramentous eyes falling out of bed.

He abstruse to say little and accumulate to himself. He advised computer programming and accomplished to be a paralegal. He went to church, abounding 12-step booze and biologic programs, and dabbled in poetry.

In a composition about Monsue, he wrote:

An idiot blockhead who jumped to conclusions; Unable to reason, "If not the boy, who then?" Aback he affronted 25, Bruce was transferred to developed bastille — aboriginal San Quentin, afresh Mule Creek, a accurate breastwork about an hour's drive south of Sacramento breadth he has spent the aftermost 15 years.

Early on, he hoped college courts would annul his conviction. But his appeals were dismissed. Afresh he hoped to accretion his abandon through parole.

In 1992, aback he aboriginal became eligible, he accepted killing his mother and bidding anguish afore the acquittal board.

"I was absorbed to drugs and booze heavily. I blanket money from my parents and I had no advisedly about accomplishing so. I was on a bottomward path, branch bottomward a blocked street, and it culminated in my murdering my mother," Bruce said.

"A baby brat," interjected one acquittal commissioner.

"Yes," Bruce agreed. "I was."

Lisker now says he told lath associates what he anticipation they capital to hear. He was denied parole.

After that, Lisker said, he absitively he would never afresh acquire accusation for a abomination he didn't commit. He said he beneath to arise at his acquittal hearings in 1993, 1996 and 1998. In 1999, he abounding and apprehend a annual proclaiming his innocence.

With a $150,000 bequest from his father, who died in 1995, he assassin new attorneys and clandestine lath and set out to bright his name. He accustomed a website —www.freebruce.org — to boom up abutment and donations.

Lisker, now 39, said during an annual at Mule Creek that he understands why Monsue doubtable him at first. But Monsue and, later, Rabichow developed adit vision, he said, closing their minds to affirmation that contradicted their theory.

"It's a Chinese adage that everybody pushes a falling fence," he said. "I wasn't an angel. But I'm not a killer."

Curious About a Alarm During Bruce's years in prison, Monsue was on a adventure of his own — a apathetic acceleration through the ranks of the LAPD. There was a adamant chain to his career arc. He took the articulate assay for authoritative detective 54 times afore he was alleged for the position.

A self-described "dinosaur," he occasionally aching animosity with his barbate demeanor. In 1999, a aborigine complained that Monsue jabbed a feel in his face. His administrator counseled him to accent bottomward his "mannerisms." Afterwards that year, he was reprimanded for announcement a coffee mug with a profanity on it.

An African American changeable baker complained that he fabricated racially aloof remarks, and that the LAPD punished her for objecting. The woman quoted Monsue as adage that "the white man is at a disadvantage" because of acknowledging action. He denied it. In 2002, the burghal acclimatized the case for $1.25 million.

Monsue accomplished the rank of lieutenant, administering 45 detectives in the LAPD's Central Division, a position he still holds.

Every few years, he would be notified of a acquittal audition for Lisker and accustomed the befalling to abide a statement. In an odd way, this cutting of the authority kept the two men connected, acquainted of anniversary other.

One day in 2000, Lisker was analytic his bastille book aback he came beyond a letter Monsue had accounting to the acquittal lath two years earlier.

In the letter, Monsue said that a final acrimonious catechism about the case — what happened to the banknote missing from Dorka Lisker's purse? — had been resolved. New owners of the abode on Huston Artery had apparent the money in an attic aloft Bruce's old bedroom.

"This adumbration accepted our antecedent approach that Mr. Lisker had in actuality beggared his mother," the detective wrote. "He has acutely approved what he is able of and should never be arise to casualty on anyone abroad in the future."

Lisker anticipation there was article apprehensive about Monsue's claim. He asked his clandestine investigator, Paul Ingels, to attending into it.

Ingels searched absolute acreage annal and amid the buyer Monsue had referred to. His name was Morton P. Borenstein, and he was a lawyer.

Borenstein told Ingels that he and his wife, Beatrice, had never begin any money in the attic. Nor, he said, had they anytime discussed the affair with Monsue or anyone abroad from the LAPD. At Ingels' request, Borenstein active a affidavit annual to this effect.

Lisker believed he now had adamantine affirmation that Monsue was dishonest. Energized, he and his aegis aggregation apprenticed on.

A year later, Lisker fabricated what he advised a aloft breakthrough.

He had consistently been analytical about a buzz alarm fabricated from his parents' home about the time of the murder. At 10:22 a.m., announcement annal showed, addition dialed a cardinal that neither Bruce nor his ancestor could recognize.

Lisker was reviewing his archetype of the LAPD case book on a bounce day in 2001 aback he fabricated a connection. The abstruseness cardinal was about identical to the cardinal for Mike Ryan's mother in Ventura County. Her cardinal was in the book because Monsue had alleged to annual her about her son in the aboriginal canicule of the investigation.

The two seven-digit numbers were the aforementioned except for the final digit. The Ventura County breadth cipher had not been dialed. Nevertheless, it appeared that addition had approved to alarm Ryan's mother about the time of the murder.

"I assuredly begin it," Lisker wrote to one of his lawyers. "It aloof fits."

Lisker spent the abutting two years alive on addition accustomed address — the longest of affiliated shots. In 2003, he filed a habeas bulk petition, alienated that he was wrongfully convicted. He included the new advice about the buzz alarm and Monsue's letter. The address is now afore a federal magistrate.

Bruce additionally filed a complaint adjoin Monsue with the LAPD. He accused the detective of lying to the acquittal board, declining to investigate Ryan's abeyant accountability and soliciting apostate affidavit from Hughes.

"I was appealing abiding they'd draft it off," he said.

Comparing Aisle Lisker's complaint landed on the lath of Sgt. Jim Gavin, a barrel-chested Irishman with a blooming appearance and abrasion brownish hair. He was agnostic at first. But he was not the array to avoid a complaint, alike one from a prisoner.

During the Rampart bribery scandal, aback abounding officers' recollections were calmly hazy, Gavin came advanced with advice suggesting that a aide was lying about a shooting. As a associate coach for the LAPD, he has accomplished administration abilities to inferior officers.

Gavin, 39, apprehend the archetype of Lisker's balloon and listened to Monsue's taped interviews with Bruce and with Ryan. He spent hours poring over abstracts aggregate by Lisker's aegis team. He alert went to Mule Creek Bastille to annual Lisker.

He was afflicted by Monsue's affirmation that the long-missing grocery money had been begin in the attic aloft Lisker's old bedroom. A assassination detective would be accepted to certificate such a development in writing. Gavin could acquisition no affirmation that Monsue had done so.

Gavin contacted Borenstein, who afresh said he could not bethink award any money in the attic, abundant beneath contacting Monsue about it.

Gavin dug deeper. He asked an LAPD criminalist to assay aisle from the abomination arena with the shoes Lisker wore that day.

No such assay had been done during the aboriginal investigation. At the trial, Rabichow relied on Monsue's affidavit that the blood-soaked aisle "resembled absolutely closely" the treads of Lisker's size-8 action shoes.

Now, for the aboriginal time, the prints would be subjected to able analysis. Criminalist Ronald J. Raquel peered through a accumulative bottle at a badge photo of one of the footprints, begin in a bath abreast the kitchen.

His conclusion: It was absolutely not fabricated by Lisker's shoes.

Gavin affronted his absorption to Ryan. He tracked bottomward several of Ryan's old accompany from the accommodation on Sepulveda Boulevard. Gavin abstruse that Bruce had boasted to Ryan that his parents were affluent and that his ancestor endemic a brand accumulating account added than $100,000.

One of the accompany was dying of AIDS. Gavin flew to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to annual him. The man said that afore Dorka's murder, some of Bruce's accompany had planned to rob the Liskers and had cased the home. Ingels, the clandestine investigator, told Gavin he had advice that Ryan had been in that group.

Was it accessible an innocent man had been convicted? Gavin wondered. He was bent to acquisition out, but his superiors had added ideas, he said. Supportive at first, they had developed abrupt as his assay abject on into 2004.

His job was to attending into complaints of badge misconduct, they said, not to reinvestigate decades-old homicides. Gavin said he was told to absolute his assay to Monsue's letter and blanket it up quickly.

"I was told to shut it down," he said. "I was told I was done."

Gavin followed orders and affronted in an abbreviated report. He wrote, but did not submit, a best report. The appellation folio read: "The Case of Bruce Lisker: Did a adulterated assay by an LAPD administrator advance to Lisker's annihilation conviction?"

Without cogent his superiors, Gavin additionally gave Ingels a archetype of the criminalist's address on the blood-soaked footprint.

"He told me that he was apparently activity to bolt some calefaction for accomplishing that," Ingels said. "But he said: 'I'm OK with that.' "

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Claims Absolved Aftermost July, Lisker begin in his bastille mail a letter on LAPD stationery. It was the department's acknowledgment to his complaint. An assay had begin no arete to his accusation that Monsue aria to the acquittal board, wrote Capt. James A. Rubert, the detective's actual superior.

As for Lisker's broader claims — that Ryan was the absolute analgesic and that Hughes had aria on the attestant bend — those had already been addressed by the courts, Rubert wrote. No added assay was warranted.

Lisker said he was aghast but not surprised. Ingels, a aloft Pomona policeman, was furious. He alleged Gavin, who told him that he had been ordered to stop investigating. Ingels wrote Badge Chief William J. Bratton, accusing Gavin's administration of a cover-up.

In response, the administration launched a beginning assay into Monsue's conduct and that of Gavin's superiors.

Gavin is additionally beneath assay — for absolute arcane advice about the case. In February, he was transferred from Internal Affairs to the department's training ability in Sylmar.

The affirmation Gavin calm was affronted over to a detective in the LAPD's cold-case unit, who conducted a quick assay and assured that Lisker was guilty.

The assay affronted up a ahead disregarded allotment of evidence: an old dissection photo assuming a abrasion on Dorka Lisker's head. It bore a bouncing arrangement that looked like a shoe print. LAPD admiral said a basic assay affiliated the book to Bruce's shoes, suggesting that he had stomped on his mother's head.

In March, Times reporters asked whether badge had compared the abrasion to the abstruseness brand begin in the bathroom. They had not. Agent Chief Gary Brennan said LAPD experts would accomplish such an analysis.

But Brennan said he had no agnosticism that Lisker was the killer.

"An innocent man is not in prison," he said.

Fed Up With Questions

Monsue says he has a "fundamental rule" as an investigator: "Keep it simple, stupid." Lisker was the accessible suspect, the detective said in an interview, and he charcoal assertive of his guilt.

Monsue denied lying to the acquittal lath about the analysis of the missing grocery money. He said it was his convenance to certificate such developments in writing. He could not explain why no address could be found, he said.

With arresting indignation, he insisted that the affair had no address on Lisker's answerability or innocence.

"It's agilely absorbing to me that they are calling me a liar, OK? What does it prove?" Monsue said. "We've got a lying, cheating, murdering son of a accusation in bastille that's authoritative these allegations ... and you're sitting actuality analytic my credibility.... That upsets me."

As for Ryan, Monsue said he had agitation assertive that the jailbait would acquire dead addition over $150. Added important, he said, he had no affirmation agreement Ryan at the abomination scene.

Monsue said he was blind of the buzz alarm fabricated from the Lisker home about the time of the murder. He said it did not necessarily accuse Ryan. He appropriate that Lisker may acquire approved to alarm Ryan's mother and accidentally misdialed.

"You've got to accumulate it simple, stupid," Monsue said. "Usually, bodies are dead by bodies abutting to them."

He said the criminalist's award that the blood-soaked brand in the bath was not Lisker's afflicted his curiosity, "but I would not draw any abstracts ... until I did some assignment on it."

Monsue said he was fed up with answering questions about his investigation.

"I've got annihilation to lose now. I've got my 30 years on, OK?.... My alimony is in the bank. But I'm accepting actual annoyed of aggravating to explain this over and over and over and over."

A Stunning Discovery

The missing grocery money has been a alternating affair in Bodies vs. Lisker. At the trial, Rabichow told jurors it was not in Dorka's purse, advertence that Bruce blanket it.

Mulcahy said the abortion to acquisition the money was a audacious weakness in the prosecution's case. If Lisker took the money, breadth was it? he asked.

Years later, Monsue told the acquittal lath it had affronted up in the attic.

The Times abstruse afresh that the money may acquire been in Dorka Lisker's purse all along.

Three weeks afterwards Bruce was bedevilled in 1985, a cloister agent alleged B.J. Wilson conducted a absolute chase of the purse afore putting it in accumulator forth with added evidence.

Wilson airtight on a brace of elastic gloves and dug through the atramentous patent-leather handbag. She'd cull article out, afresh address it down.

"If there's a toothpick, I address 'toothpick,' " Wilson, now retired, said in an interview. "If there's a allotment of gum. I address 'gum.' "

And so she did.

"3 emery boards, granola bar, 2 pencils, artificial bag ... ," reads her three-page handwritten list, which The Times begin on microfilm in a cloister annal in burghal Los Angeles. "Red & orange accumulative glass, accolade in artificial wrap, Kleenexes ..."

Wilson placed an asterisk beside the aftermost entry:

"Also begin in brn wallet compartment: 5 $20.00 bills -- 1 ten-dollar bill, 1 five-dollar bill & 5 one-dollar bills. Total $120.00."

Told of the discovery, Rabichow said he was stunned.

"It was my addiction to attending through the exhibits personally. I never alien article afterwards attractive through it, because you never know," he said. "Quite honestly, I'm a little bit agitated with myself."

Visiting the Arena Aback he retired from the commune attorney's appointment in 2003, Rabichow didn't attending back. He formed on his tennis bold and wore himself out aggravating to accumulate up with his adolescent daughter.

Rarely did he anticipate of the hundreds of bodies he'd put abaft confined during his 30 years as a prosecutor.

That all afflicted one afternoon aftermost November, aback he met with two Times reporters at a Carrows restaurant in Reseda to altercate the annihilation of Dorka Lisker.

Near the end of a three-hour meeting, Rabichow slipped on account glasses and scrutinized a certificate one of the reporters had slid beyond the table. It was the criminalist's address on the abstruseness footprint.

Rabichow was speechless.

He addled through a archetype of his closing altercation to the jury, additionally provided by the reporters, and was reminded of what he had told jurors aback in 1985: that Lisker's footprints, and no one else's, were in the blood.

He reread the LAPD report.

"I don't apperceive what to accomplish of this," he said. "If I had accepted about it, it's absolutely article I would acquire had to explain."

He said the award was "clearly exculpatory evidence."

Asked who came to apperception as a abeyant antecedent of the footprint, Rabichow replied afterwards hesitation: "Ryan."

Rabichow larboard the restaurant activity afraid about a case he had anticipation he knew from every angle. In the weeks and months that followed, he bashed through hundreds of pages of balloon testimony, badge letters and added documents.

Steadily, his misgivings grew.

He was active by the buzz alarm placed from the Lisker home about the time of the attack. Rabichow said he had "no doubt" that whoever dialed the cardinal was aggravating to alarm Ryan's mother — or to act as if he was.

"It's actual troubling," he said.

Rabichow said he now admired that Mulcahy, Lisker's aegis lawyer, had been accustomed to present affirmation about Ryan at trial.

"It's never been my altercation that [Ryan] wasn't the affectionate of being to do this," Rabichow said. "He is the affectionate of being who would do this. I wouldn't put it accomplished him."

Still, Rabichow remained assertive that Bruce could not acquire apparent his mother's anatomy through the dining allowance window. A dining set and a foot-high bean agriculturalist at the bend of the access anteroom would acquire stood in the way. That meant Lisker had aria about what prompted him to access the abode and could not be believed about annihilation else.

Yet Rabichow couldn't be abiding about this unless he looked through the window himself. Years earlier, he had gone to balloon afterwards visiting the abomination scene, relying on Monsue's investigation.

Times reporters had visited the old Lisker abode alert and had abiding with the accepted buyer to go aback again. They asked Rabichow to accompany them this time, and he agreed. So on a backing afternoon in March, he accumulating to Huston Artery and set basal in the abode for the aboriginal time.

Using badge photos and measurements, reporters replicated the position of Dorka Lisker's body. The agriculturalist was no best there, so the reporters congenital a board facsimile of the aforementioned dimensions. They additionally brought an 4-by-8-foot rug to bend in for the one that lay there 22 years earlier.

When Rabichow agreed that the rug and the agriculturalist were in the aforementioned positions as on the day of the murder, a anchorman lay bottomward in the atom breadth Dorka Lisker's anatomy was found.

Rabichow absolved alfresco and stood in advanced of the dining allowance window through which Bruce Lisker claimed to acquire apparent his mother. Rabichow accustomed that he could see the reporter's arch from several angle points. The dining set and agriculturalist were not the obstacles he anticipation they would be. He could see over them.

He sighed acutely and stood bashful for a moment. He said he admired he had conducted such an agreement afore the trial.

"I should acquire arise out here," Rabichow said. "This is not what I anticipation it would be."

'A Bombshell' Ronald Raquel, the LAPD criminalist, had some amateurish business to appear to aftermost month. He had been asked to assay the brand on Dorka Lisker's head.

LAPD admiral were all but assertive Bruce Lisker had fabricated the mark in the advance of killing his mother. It seemed to annihilate any agnosticism about his guilt.

Now, Raquel advised the dissection photo and compared the purplish abrasion with the bouncing arrangement on the soles of Bruce's shoes.

They did not match.

Raquel afresh compared the abrasion to the blood-soaked shoe book begin in the bath of the Lisker home — the one he had ahead bent was not from Bruce Lisker's shoes.

They looked the same. The abstruseness footprint, Raquel wrote in his report, was "similar in admeasurement and dimension" to the consequence on Dorka's head.

LAPD officials, acknowledging that the award clashes with the case presented at Lisker's trial, forwarded Raquel's address to the commune attorney's office.

For Rabichow, the new advice was devastating. "A bombshell," he alleged it.

Even afterwards visiting the house, he had resisted the abstraction that Lisker may acquire been abominably convicted. He wrestled with doubts but still insisted that the accumulation of the affirmation accurate a accusable verdict.

He is not insisting anymore.

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"The basal band is I now acquire reasonable doubt," he said, abacus that he accustomed added analysis of the case. "The accuracy is the accuracy — and I appetite the accuracy to arise out."

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