Guilty verdict in case of mother accused of daughter's murder

Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2003

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) -- Jurors have found former Alaska woman guilty of first-degree murder in the throat-slashing death of her 9-year-old daughter at a Lake Tahoe campground.

Lisa Platz, 33, stood sobbing in the courtroom as the verdict was returned Wednesday following 1 1/2 days of deliberations by jurors. She faces life in prison without possible parole. Sentencing is scheduled for May 16 in El Dorado County Superior Court.

Public Defender Rick Meyer, who blamed Platz' boyfriend, James Csucsai for the September 2001 killing of Rebecca Aramburo, said he plans to appeal. Csucsai hanged himself while in jail.

Platz and Csucsai took the girl from a relative in Washington state in August 2001. An FBI manhunt ensued and the three were found at a Tahoe campground a month later.

Platz and Csucsai were found alive with knife wounds when authorities stormed their tent after a nine-hour standoff. The girl's body was discovered wrapped in blankets.

Prosecutors theorized Platz either aided in her daughter's death or killed the child herself because she didn't want her to return to her biological father, Jose Aramburo.

A bitter custody battle between Platz and Aramburo began in Alaska.

Platz and Aramburo lived together in Bellingham, Wash., until Platz, who is originally from North Pole, moved to Fairbanks in 1994 and married Robert Platz.

The girl lived in Fairbanks for four years. The couple divorced in 1998.

Csucsai, originally from Avon, Ohio, moved to Alaska with his family and was stationed at Eielson Air Force Base in 1993. After leaving the military in 1995, he held a variety of jobs in Fairbanks and North Pole.

Csucsai and Platz moved away from Alaska in 1998.

In Washington this week, the girl's father remained uncertain whether justice was done. He said that if a Washington court had revoked Platz' bail after she failed to return Rebecca during a spring 2001 visit, his daughter might still be alive.

Aramburo also said Platz needed mental help.

''If he did it or she did, either way nobody did anything to stop it,'' he said.

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