DATE: Monday, September 8, 1997             TAG: 9709080052

SECTION: FRONT                   PAGE: A8   EDITION: FINAL 

                                            LENGTH:   41 lines


Navy cook James Radcliff died as the result of a murder-for-hire scheme engineered by his wife, Robin, and her lover, Gary Hinojosa. The two, who had planned to collect on Radcliff's $100,000 life insurance policy, recruited four young men to commit the crime.

James Radcliff was asleep when a car containing James Hall, Aaron Turner, Mario Murphy and Michael Bourne pulled up outside his Virginia Beach apartment shortly after 2 a.m. on July 29, 1991.

Dressed in black clothes borrowed from Hinojosa, Hall, Turner and Murphy climbed through a window left open for them by Robin Radcliff and entered his bedroom while Bourne waited in the car.

While Hall held a flashlight, Turner hit Radcliff over the head with a weight-lifting bar and then handed the weapon to Murphy. Both Murphy and Turner then stabbed Radcliff repeatedly.

The three men ran from the bedroom and - after taking a videocassette recorder and a video game to make the incident look like a burglary - left.

Robin Radcliff waited 30 minutes before she called 911 and reported that her husband had been hurt by burglars. A week later, she and Hinojosa married in Texas.

Police arrested all six participants in September 1991.

Hinojosa pleaded guilty to capital murder as part of an agreement with prosecutors. In exchange for his plea, he avoided the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison. Turner, a former football star at Cox High School, made the same deal.

Robin Radcliff Hinojosa turned down a similar offer and went on trial. Prosecutors asked for death, but a jury sentenced her to life instead. Hall and Bourne both pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for life sentences.

Prosecutors refused to make a deal with Murphy. He pleaded guilty to capital murder and was sentenced to death.

- Laura LaFay MEMO: [For related stories, see page A1 and A8 of THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

for this date.]

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