Man Faces Seventh Trial for 2001 Murder - NBC 6 South Florida

Man Faces Seventh Trial for 2001 Murder

Prosecutor hopeful after two mistrials, three hung juries and an overturned conviction



    Living Well With Cardiovascular Disease
    Getty Images
    Steven Hayes' trial begins.

    For Alan Ruff, Monday might feel a bit like "Groundhog Day."

    But it'll be anything but comedic for the South Florida man and the family of the woman he's accused of killing as he heads to his seventh trial in the 2001 murder, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

    Jury selection will begin Monday in the case against Ruff, who's accused in the brutal stabbing of ex-girlfriend Traci Cooper, who was found with 49 slashes in a Cooper City air-conditioning repair office.

    Ruff was arrested in 2002, and has been in and out of courtrooms since. There have been two mistrials, three hung juries and one overturned conviction in 2007 in the six previous trials against Ruff, but prosecutors hope the seventh time's the charm.

    "There's nothing wrong with the evidence, the evidence is there," prosecutor Peter Holden told the Sun-Sentinel. "It all points to him, no question about it in my mind."

    Though no fingerprints or shoe prints were found at the crime scene, a bloody towel had hair that DNA testing showed belonged to either Ruff or a family member. It just so happens Ruff's sister worked in the same building as Cooper.

    "The facts of the case are so tailored for disagreement," Assistant Public Defender Bruce Raticoff said. "There's no conclusive piece of evidence that links him to the crime scene."

    Family members of Cooper, who had been dating Ruff for six years before their breakup and left behind three children, disagree.

    "There's no doubt in our minds who did this to her," Cooper's sister, Darla Kelly, told the Sun-Sentinel. "Alan's the one who did it. He had been taunting her, and calling her, and breaking into the house. It's ludicrous, it's crazy for our family to have to go through this again."

    Though it's hard to know how much money has been spent on the case, and no official records are kept as to how many times a single murder case has gone to trial, there's no doubt the Ruff case is unique.

    "It's more than unusual, it's unheard of," said Raticoff, who has defended Ruff for all seven trials. "I've been doing this for 30 years and I don't know anybody in my 30 years who has tried a case seven times."