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Charges Filed in Two Unsolved Alameda Murders from 1996

The victims both died similar violent deaths.

Alameda Police today announced that charges had been filed in two unsolved cases from 1996.

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office charged Eugene Albert Protsman, 56, with two counts of first degree murder with special circumstances for the slayings of Alameda residents Manual Garcia and Diane Ely, according to an Alameda Police Department statement.

Protsman, a convicted murderer, is currently serving life without parole for the 1997 bludgeoning death of a former housemate in a Southern California trailer park.

In Alameda on Oct. 29, 1996, Manual Garcia, 59, was found in his home in the 100 block of Crolls Garden Court. The cause of death was a combination of blunt force trauma and stab wounds. 

Less than two weeks later, on Nov. 10, 1996, Diane Ely, 54, was found dead in her home in the 2200 block of San Jose Avenue. Her cause of death was also a combination of blunt force trauma and stab wounds.

In the fall of 2010, the Alameda Police Department received information linking Protsman to both homicides, according to the police statement.

Alameda Police Sergeant Kevin McNiff reopened both investigations. Technological advances in DNA analysis led to Protsman, who is expected to be arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011 at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse

The victim in the 1997 Southern California murder, Elisabeth Smith, was found dead in her trailer in El Cajon, in San Diego County. According to the California Court of Appeal opinion affirming Protsman's conviction in that case, the crime scene was gruesome.

“[Smith] had been beaten to death with a hammer — receiving at least ten blows to the head and three to the chest that fractured her skull in several places and broke three ribs. Smith had no defensive injuries, and no methamphetamine or other illegal drugs or alcohol were in her system at the time of her death,” read the opinion.

According to the Court of Appeal, the defense case included Protsman's mother's testimony about head injuries he'd suffered, one as a child and one as a young adult.

"Vivian Protsman, testified that he fell out of his bunk bed when he was eight-years old and sustained a head injury. When she found him, blood was coming from his nose and ears, and as a result of his injury, Protsman became deaf in one ear. She also noticed that his attention span became 'real short' after the fall. Vivian testified that Protsman sustained a second head injury in a car accident when he was 23-years old."

A prisoner correspondence website that apparently belongs to Protsman has what appears to be a recent picture. He describes himself as "free spirited" person who "loved to travel and be outdoors."

He says he's "lonely and burned out seeing others get mail and staff passing me up."

Lisbeth Allen September 28, 2011 at 03:19 PM
Apparently people remember this guy judging from a few comments from the SF Gates article... I remember this guy from Webster St in Alameda (around Tillie's), he used to walk around with no shirt and this weird keep on truckin' strut. He would walk up with fist clenched and ask for money. I'm wondering if this is the same guy that used to visit my mentally ill neighbor (whom I was trying to help with her many problems. RIP Pat.) He had long, reddish hair. And that strut. When I met him he bowed down and said he wanted to be the father of my babies. I guess I missed my chance. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article/comments/view?f=/c/a/2011/09/27/BA5T1LA2AG.DTL
Denise Shelton September 28, 2011 at 06:52 PM
@Jenna - I'll say! Expect more of the same with the funding cuts for the mentally ill. This guy should have been locked up a long time ago.
joel September 29, 2011 at 02:44 AM
Thank you to the Alamadeda PD , continue these traffic stop it work , the difference those Great Cities of Oakland and San Francisco have double and triple digit murder cases ........

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