María del Rosio "Rosie" Alfaro was
sentenced to death on July 14, 1992 for the
murder of a 9-year-old girl during a burglary and robbery in Anaheim, California,
on June 15, 1990.
Alfaro, who was 18 and pregnant with twins at the time of the murder,
stabbed the 9-year-old 57 times.
Maria del Rosio "Rosie" Alfaro, July 2002,
became the first woman sentenced to death in Orange County, when she
was condemned for stabbing to death 9-year-old Autumn Wallace more
than 50 times during a June 15, 1990 burglary in Anaheim to get money
Autumn was home alone cutting out paper dolls when
she heard a knock on the door and saw Alfaro, an acquaintance of her
older sister's. In an interview years later, Alfaro said she had to
kill Autumn because the girl knew who she was. Linda Wallace, Autumn's
mother, found her daughter's body hours later in a pool of blood in
Rosie Alfaro (born October 12, 1971) is an
American female murderer currently on California's death row for the
1990 murder of 9 year old Autumn Wallace in Anaheim, California.
Autumn Wallace, the victim, allowed Alfaro inside
the home as she recognized Alfaro as a past guest on numerous
occasions, and an acquaintance of her older sister. Autumn was home
alone, waiting for her sister and mom to return from work, when Alfaro
arrived and asked if she could come inside to use the restroom.
Alfaro, who was 18 years old, pregnant, and high on
cocaine and heroin, needed another fix, burgled the Wallace home,
ultimately to garner cash to enable her to purchase drugs. When Alfaro
originally planned to approach the Wallace home, she did not expect to
find anyone home; when she found Autumn at home, she then realized she
would have to kill her because she would know who committed the
burglary. Alfaro stabbed Autumn 57 times, and then proceeded to take
anything and everything of apparent value.
She later changed her original confession and
stated that an unidentified male accomplice forced her to start
stabbing the girl, and then he finished the slaying. Alfaro has never
identified the male; police and the Orange County Prosecutor say he
Alfaro was raised in the barrio in Anaheim,
California, near Disneyland. She became a drug addict at 13, a
prostitute at 14 and a single mom at 15, and mother to 4 children at
18. Eventually, she became a murderer at 18 (while pregnant with
twins) and the first woman in Orange County, California to get the
death penalty at 20.
On June 15, 1990, Autumn Wallace, aged 9, was home
alone in Anaheim, California; she was waiting for her older sister and
mother to return home from work. Rosie Alfaro was high on cocaine and
heroin and needed a fix. She knew the Wallace family and was friendly
with one of the older daughters. She thought they were out and that
she would be able to steal items from the home to sell so she could
get her fix.
Autumn opened the door for Alfaro, her sister's
friend, who asked to use the restroom. She took a knife from the
kitchen before proceeding to the restroom, located at the back of the
house. She then coaxed Autumn into the restroom on a ruse, and stabbed
her over 50 times. Alfaro then ransacked the house for anything she
could steal, ultimately to acquire drug money. The stolen property was
later sold for less than $300.
Alfaro confessed to the crime during a police-taped
interview, stating she was high on heroin and cocaine when she stabbed
Autumn. Later she changed her story and alleged an unidentified man
"forced" her to stab the little girl. Still later Alfaro told police
that two men drove her to the Wallace home, and one of the men came
into the house and forced her to kill Autumn. She refused to identify
the man. The evidence from the crime scene indicated that only members
of the Wallace family and Alfaro (based on her fingerprints and a
matched bloodstained shoe print) were present in the home that day.
She was tried and convicted of first-degree murder
with special circumstances. At the end of the penalty phase of the
trial, the jury deadlocked 10-2 on the sentence of death. The penalty
phase of the trial was then declared a mistrial. A second jury
unanimously voted to recommend the death penalty. The trial judge
upheld the jury’s recommendation and sentenced Alfaro to death.
In August 2007, the California Supreme Court voted
unanimously to uphold Alfaro's death sentence.
Who kills a 9-year-old girl for drugs?
By Larry Welborn - The Orange County Register
December 11, 2009
SANTA ANA Maria del Rosio "Rosie" Alfaro was a drug
addict at 13, a prostitute at 14, a single mom at 15 and a murderer at
She grew up in Anaheim, hustling for cocaine and
heroin. On June 15, 1990, Alfaro desperately needed money for her next
fix when she tricked 9-year-old Autumn Wallace into letting her inside
the family residence in Anaheim Hills.
Autumn, a smiling pixie with blond hair, was home
alone cutting out paper dolls when she heard the knock on the door and
saw "Rosie," an acquaintance of her older sister.
In a jailhouse interview years later, Alfaro said
she had to kill Autumn because the little girl knew who she was. Linda
Wallace – Autumn's mom — found the body of her little girl hours later
in a pool of blood in the bathroom. She had been stabbed 57 times.
The Wallace home had been ransacked, and property
was missing — including a portable television, a typewriter, a
telephone and a Nintendo set. Alfaro sold all of it for $300.
In 1992, Alfaro became the first and only female
sentenced to death by an Orange County judge to death.
Alfaro death penalty affirmed
August 26, 2007
It took 15 years, but the Wallace family today
finally received the news they have been waiting for.
The California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed
the the death sentence given in 1992 to an Anaheim woman who killed
9-year-old girl Autumn Wallace in 1990 during a burglary.
Appeals for Maria del Rosio “Rosie” Alfaro, now 35,
who was first woman in Orange County to get the death penalty, will
now enter the federal court system. And that process, too, can take
years to come to a conclusion.
Alfaro was a high school friend of Autumn’s older
sister who talked the little girl — who was home alone — into opening
her door on June 15, 1990. Alfaro later admitted killing the little
girl to eliminate a witness. Autumn was stabbed 57 times and her body
was found in a pool of blood by her mother Linda when she returned
home from work.
Alfaro 1st O.C. Woman to Get Death Sentence
Judge, who upheld jury's recommendation, called
Autumn Wallace's murder the most 'senseless, brutal, vicious and
callous' killing he has ever known
By Lily Dizon - Los Angeles Times
July 15, 1992
SANTA ANA — A 20-year-old mother of four became the
first Orange County woman condemned to Death Row when a Superior Court
judge on Tuesday sentenced her to die in the gas chamber for the fatal
stabbing of a 9-year-old girl during a burglary.
In upholding a jury's recommendation that Maria
(Rosie) del Rosio Alfaro of Anaheim be sentenced to death for the
slaying of Autumn Wallace, Judge Theodore E. Millard denounced the
murder as the most "senseless, brutal, vicious and callous" killing he
has ever known.
The sentence will automatically be appealed to
A jury in March convicted Alfaro of first-degree
murder during a burglary and robbery. But the same jury deadlocked 10
to 2 in favor of recommending the death sentence for the June 15,
1990, murder of Autumn in her Anaheim home. The young girl was stabbed
57 times and left to bleed to death on a bathroom floor.
A second jury last month unanimously recommended
the death sentence after a retrial of the penalty phase.
Tuesday, relatives of the victim and the defendant
sobbed as two mothers--one fighting on behalf of her child's memory
and the other for her daughter's life--addressed the court.
Her voice breaking, Linda Wallace, 42, told Millard
that during the trial her daughter was known simply as a young victim
stabbed to death by someone she trusted. She said she wanted everyone
to know Autumn was more than just a name, that her blond-haired,
brown-eyed daughter was an A student who loved swimming and fishing
and who wanted to be an artist when she grew up.
Wallace said she lives "the nightmare daily of what
Autumn went through the last moments of her life." She said she wants
Alfaro to pay for her crime by being executed.
Alfaro's mother, Silvia Alfaro, 38, implored the
judge to spare her daughter from the death sentence.
"The first time that I came here, I felt like I was
sitting in the electric chair," she cried. "I beg you, please forgive
my daughter and please forgive what she did."
She broke down and ran from the courtroom. At the
same time, Linda Wallace closed her eyes and wiped away her tears.
Wallace said afterward that Alfaro's death sentence
has finally given her peace. Her life has been in limbo since the day
she came home from work and found her daughter's body in a pool of
blood, she said.
"What (Alfaro) did was horrible; I will never
forgive or forget her," Wallace said. As for Silvia Alfaro: "I really
feel for her because I know what it's like to lose a daughter."
As he has done throughout the trial, Alfaro's
attorney, William M. Monroe, reasserted his client's claim of
innocence. He asked that Millard reconsider Alfaro's youth, her drug
addiction, as well as her being a mother of four young boys and send
her to prison instead of the gas chamber. The jury, he claimed, made a
mistake in their recommendation.
Millard dismissed the claims, saying that Alfaro
made her own choices in life and that she cannot blame her actions on
others. Furthermore, the judge added, based upon the evidence
presented in court, he is doubtful that Alfaro could adequately take
care of her children.
Monroe said outside of court that he felt racial
misconception played a vital role in the minds of the jurors who
recommended the death penalty. He claimed that Alfaro's predominantly
white jury "could not empathize, understand or relate" to the plight
of a Latino woman trapped in a world of drugs.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Charles J. Middleton, who
prosecuted the case, brushed aside Monroe's claim of jury bias and
said the defendant was convicted only on the facts of the case.
During the trial, Alfaro testified that she was a
drug addict and was high the day Autumn was killed. Accompanied by her
14-month-old son and two men, she said she went to the house that day
to burglarize it for drug money. She said she left her son outside
with the men--one of whom Millard pointed out had just been released
from prison--while she went into the house.
Autumn recognized Alfaro as being a friend of her
older sister and let her in to use the bathroom. Once inside, Alfaro
found a knife while going through the kitchen, prosecutors said.
Autumn was playing with crayons and cutting papers
when Alfaro lured her into the bathroom on the pretense of getting the
girl to help her clean an eyelash curler. There, Alfaro stabbed the
child several times, prosecutors said. However, she maintained
throughout her trial that the man who drove her to the house did the
actual killing. She refused to name that person.
Prosecutors said Alfaro never brought up the
subject of a man being in the house until she was assigned a defense
lawyer. Even then, they said, it wasn't until someone asked her if
there was another person inside the house that Alfaro came up with her
claim that there had been an accomplice.
Investigators could find no evidence that anyone
besides Alfaro and Wallace family members had been in the house that
day. But they did find Alfaro's fingerprints in the bathroom and a
bloodstained shoe print matching what prosecutors said was the shoes
she wore that afternoon.
Middleton contended that Alfaro killed Autumn
because she was the only witness to the burglary.
Alfaro will join two other women on Death Row:
Maureen McDermott, a former Los Angeles registered nurse who was
convicted in 1990 of hiring a co-worker to murder her roommate so she
could collect on a $100,000 mortgage insurance policy; and Cynthia
Lynn Coffman, 30, a St. Louis woman who was convicted of the 1986
kidnap-murder of a woman in San Bernardino.
The three are the only women in California to
receive death sentences since 1978, when capital punishment was
Convicted Killer's Lifestyle Led to Tragedy,
By Donnette Dunbar - Los Angeles Times
March 31, 1992
SANTA ANA — An attorney for Maria del Rosio Alfaro,
who could face the death penalty after being convicted of killing a
9-year-old Anaheim girl, on Monday said his client was a victim of the
"dreaded disease of drugs" and oblivious of the crime she committed.
Defense attorney William M. Monroe, in an opening
statement during the penalty phase of Alfaro's trial, painted the
20-year-old convicted killer as a "woman-child" whose lifestyle led to
Last week, jurors convicted Alfaro of first-degree
murder for stabbing Autumn Wallace 57 times in the bathroom of the
child's home on June 15, 1990. Although the conviction could bring the
death penalty, Monroe is seeking a sentence of life in prison without
Tamara Benedict, 20, was one of seven witnesses
called by the defense attorney. She testified that Alfaro often worked
as a prostitute in exchange for cocaine and heroine, shooting up as
much as 50 times a day for weeks at a time.
During cross-examination, Benedict told Deputy
Dist. Atty. Charles J. Middleton that she and Alfaro would often sleep
with drug dealers to support their expensive habits.
"We had no jobs at all," she said. "Sometimes we
would steal from stores or get someone to steal for us."
Some jurors appeared shocked at Benedict's
testimony, which included a matter-of-fact description of how the
girls would mix cocaine and heroin to lengthen the drug's high.
Alfaro, wearing a floral blouse and blue stretch
pants, cried throughout the testimonies of Benedict, her childhood
friends, boyfriend Manuel Cueva and her mother, Silvia Melendez
Maria Alfaro sobbed when Cueva described her
children's visits to County Jail, where she is being held while
Silvia Alfaro testified that her daughter started
her life of drugs and prostitution when she was about 12 years old,
becoming progressively worse until the birth of her first child,
Daniel. Maria Alfaro enrolled in several drug treatment programs but
would always go back to her drug habit after several months, her
During her pregnancies, however, Maria Alfaro
usually managed to control her drug addiction.
At one point, Silvia Alfaro sent her daughter to
live with a grandmother in Mexico, hoping the lifestyle would help her
kick her drug habit. But when she came back, there was no change.
By the time she was 15, Maria Alfaro was out of
control, her mother said.
"She wore heavy makeup, black clothes and was
always dirty," said the mother, who choked back tears several times
during the trial. "She didn't care how she looked."
Earlier, Superior Court Judge Theodore E. Millard
agreed to a request from prosecutors barring testimony from two
witnesses during the sentencing hearing.
The defense was hoping to call Norman Morien, a
sentencing consultant, to talk about the conditions of the prison
system for inmates sentenced to life without parole.
Woman Found Guilty of Killing Girl, 9
She stabbed the victim, a witness in a drug-related
home robbery, 57 times. She could face the death penalty
By Mark I. Pinsky - Los Angeles Times
March 24, 1992
SANTA ANA — A jury took less than four hours Monday
to convict an Anaheim woman of fatally stabbing a 9-year-old girl--the
only witness to a drug-related home robbery.
Maria del Rosio Alfaro, 20, stabbed Autumn Wallace
57 times in the bathroom of her Anaheim house on June 15, 1990. The
girl was at home after school, waiting for her mother to return from
work, when she opened the door for Alfaro, who knew her older sister.
The jury convicted Alfaro of first-degree murder
with two special circumstances--commission of the crime in the course
of a burglary and in the course of a robbery. Either of the special
circumstances can bring the death penalty. Alfaro was also found
guilty separately of burglary, robbery and using a knife during the
As the jurors filed into the courtroom to announce
their verdicts, one said, "This is the hard part."
Alfaro began dabbing her eyes even before hearing
the verdicts. She stood, holding the hand of her attorney, as the
murder verdict was read.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Charles J. Middleton told
Superior Court Judge Theodore E. Millard that he would call no
witnesses during the penalty phase. Instead, he said, he would
introduce a school photo of Autumn and address the jury.
Defense attorney William M. Monroe said that
because of "the viciousness, the heinousness of the crime," the task
of saving Alfaro from the gas chamber is monumental.
During the penalty phase, the jury will recommend
to the judge a death sentence or life in prison without the
possibility of parole.
Much of the prosecution's case was built around a 4
1/2-hour, videotaped interrogation of Alfaro by two sheriff's
investigators two weeks after the killing.
Alfaro, sobbing throughout the tape, said that on
the day of the killing she was "wired" on cocaine and heroin. With two
male friends and her infant son, she drove to the Wallace home to rob
it, knowing that Autumn would be alone, she said.
At the house, Autumn recognized Alfaro as a friend
of her older sister, April Wallace, and let Alfaro in to use the
bathroom. On her way through the house, Alfaro said, she grabbed a
knife from a kitchen drawer, and after thinking about what to do for a
few moments while in the bathroom, called to Autumn to help her clean
her eyelash curlers. "That's when I did it," Alfaro told the
investigators. "I stabbed her . . . 'cause she knew who I was."
The girl did not resist and made no sound when she
was attacked, Alfaro said, and no one else participated in the
Alfaro said the stolen goods from the house,
including a portable television, a video recorder, clothes and
Autumn's typewriter, were sold for about $250.
The prosecution also introduced 109 items of
physical evidence, including Alfaro's fingerprint taken from the
house, her footprint in blood on the floor of the bathroom, and her
Autumn's mother, Linda Wallace, flanked by two
surviving daughters, said the jurors "did a great job . . . and they
made the right decision. I'm just glad it's half over with, and
looking forward to the end of this. I want to see her get the death
penalty. That's what she deserves for what she did. . . .
"If she gets life in prison, I'll accept that. . .
. It's been a long two years, and it's a great relief to have it half
Middleton said the verdict was "not unexpected,
because the evidence is so overwhelming regarding the guilt."
Monroe called no witnesses in Alfaro's defense, but
argued that the murder was committed by one of the two men who went
with her to rob the home. "Rosie Alfaro may have stabbed little Autumn
Wallace, but she did not kill her," Monroe told the jury.