By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A drifter and career criminal in his 70s was convicted on Tuesday of strangling three women to death and dumping their bodies in alleys near downtown Los Angeles during the 1980s in a string of cold case serial murders resurrected by DNA evidence.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury deliberated just two hours before finding Samuel Little, 74, guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of all three women, who prosecutors described as having been made easy targets by their involvement in drugs and prostitution.
Prosecutors said Little was tied by DNA matches to the July 1987 murder of Carol Alford, 41, as well as to the August and September 1989 slayings of Audrey Nelson, 35, and Guadalupe Apodaca, 46.
All three were beaten and then strangled to death, and Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said Little was a suspect in several similar murders in Florida and elsewhere during the same period of time.
He was acquitted by a jury about 30 years ago of one Florida slaying.
Little, a transient with an extensive criminal history spanning much of the country, was most recently arrested in 2012 in Kentucky on an unrelated drug charge before he was extradited back to California, Silverman said.
Prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty. Little is due to return to court on Sept. 25 for sentencing and faces a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Eric Beech)