ALAMEDA — A convicted killer has been arrested and charged with murder in connection with two slayings that happened just days apart in Alameda in 1996, police said Tuesday.

Eugene Albert Protsman, 56, has been implicated by DNA evidence in the killings of Manuel Garcia, 59, and Diane Ely, 54, said Alameda police Lt. Sean Lynch.

Protsman, a native of Colorado Springs, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for murdering a woman in San Diego County. He has been transferred from a state prison in Lancaster (Los Angeles County) to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

Alameda County prosecutors have charged Protsman with two counts of murder and the special circumstances of murder in the commission of a robbery for both slayings and multiple murder. Protsman also faces a special circumstance of torture in Ely’s slaying.

The charges would make Protsman eligible for the death penalty or life in prison if convicted. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek lethal injection if Protsman is convicted.

Garcia was found dead Oct. 29, 1996, in his home on the 100 block of Crolls Garden Court at the Playa Del Alameda apartment complex off Central Avenue. He died of blunt-force trauma and stab wounds.

Twelve days later, on Nov. 10, Ely’s ex-husband found her dead in her home on the 2200 block of San Jose Avenue. She had also been beaten and stabbed, Lynch said.

Police said the victims did not know each other but would not say how Protsman knew them. At the time of the slayings, “there was no indication that the two cases were related,” Lynch said.

Police received unspecified information last year linking Protsman to both killings, Lynch said. Sgt. Kevin McNiff, who was just weeks from retirement, reopened the cases and found evidence linking Protsman to the slayings, police said.

“We’re pleased that the families have closure, and we’re gratified that we have brought who we believe unquestionably to be the right suspect to justice,” Lynch said.

Protsman was convicted in San Diego of first-degree murder, special circumstances and a weapons enhancement for killing Elisabeth Smith in her home in an El Cajon trailer park in 1997. Protsman, then a methamphetamine user, beat her to death with a hammer.

In his appeal, Protsman said the trial judge had wrongly excluded testimony from an expert who said Protsman suffered from a traumatic brain injury. Protsman said he fell from his bed and hit his head when he was 8. That injury, couple with methamphetamine use, could cause blackouts and “loss of contact with reality,” his appeal said.

An appeals court rejected his claims.

In a posting on Convict House, a pen-pal website for prisoners, Protsman described himself as “free spirited, biker, loved to travel and be outdoors, very open-minded, understanding, but a realest.”

He added, “Doing life without parole. I will never get out and am lonely.”

  1. Yes he may have did these crimes but what I have learned from him is he is remorsful. YES I DO feel bad those people lost loved ones. But what gives eveyone the right to judge with out hearing both sides.