Man who killed lesbian couple in Oregon dies on death row

PORTLAND, Ore.  — A man who killed a lesbian couple in Oregon and a man in California has died on death row at the Oregon State Penitentiary, authorities said.

Robert James Acremant, 50, died Friday, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections.

A medical examiner will determine Acremant's cause of death, said corrections spokeswoman Tonya Gushard.

"Acremant was found dead in his solitary cell during a routine morning check," Gushard told the Mail Tribune. "There was nothing suspicious that we know of."

Acremant was convicted of aggravated murder, kidnapping and robbery in the 1995 deaths of Roxanne Ellis, 53, and Michelle Abdill, 42.

Authorities said he lured Ellis and Abdill to a Medford, Oregon, duplex apartment, where he bound, gagged and blindfolded them with duct tape, and shot them twice in the head with a pistol as they lay in their truck.

Their bodies were discovered three days later in the vehicle, which was parked nearby. Acremant was arrested by a SWAT team over a week later in California.

He claimed the murders were motivated by his dislike of lesbians. Ellis and Abdill had worked on a campaign that defeated a statewide measure to limit gay rights in the early 1990s.

However, Acremant later said the killings were part of a botched robbery.

Prosecutors at the time said Acremant killed the women in an attempt to rob them of money he wanted to spend on a stripper whom he called his girlfriend. Alla Kosova said in court during Acremant's trial that he was nothing but "one of my best customers," but that he had spent thousands of dollars attempting to woo her.

A jury sentenced him to death in 1997. The sentence was reduced to life in prison in 2011 after he was diagnosed as delusional and unable to aid in his appeals.

He was never taken off death row in Oregon because of a California murder conviction, Gushard said. In that case, Acremant was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1995 fatal shooting of 23-year-old family friend Scott George in Visalia, California.

Acremant's father, Kenneth Acremant, told The Associated Press in 1995 that his son said during a prison visit that he killed George out of anger and that he had killed the women in an attempt to get enough money to flee the country.