The Night Of The Last Dance -- Serial-Murder Trial Focuses On Bar Visit

Mary Anne Pohlreich wore white the night of her death, the final time she went dancing at an Eastside bar, the man who went there with her testified.

Rick Bryant and another male friend who accompanied Pohlreich on June 22, 1990, soon grew bored at Papagayo's bar and left early. Pohlreich, drinking Long Island iced teas and chatting with several people, wanted to stay.

The next morning, the 27-year-old woman was found dead about a mile away, her battered body placed near a restaurant trash bin with her hands clasped across her chest, holding a fir cone. She was nude; her clothes have never been found.

Tamara Francis yesterday took the witness stand in the triple-murder trial of George Waterfield Russell. Francis, 26, was a semi-celebrity at Papagayo's that summer, known as "the girl with the white Porsche."

According to several witnesses, Russell had a crush on Francis. According to one of his friends, Russell said he had taken Francis for a ride in the friend's truck the night of Pohlreich's murder.

Yesterday, Francis said that wasn't true.

"No," she said. "I'd sit at the same table. He'd offer to buy me drinks. I never left Papagayo's parking lot with Mr. Russell."

Russell, 33, of Mercer Island is accused of killing Pohlreich, Carol Marie Beethe, 35, and Andrea Levine, 24, all Eastside women who were murdered last summer.

Prosecutors have charged Russell with first-degree murder in the Pohlreich case and aggravated murder in the other two cases, in which the women were beaten to death as they lay in their beds. Both Beethe and Levine were also found in poses that King County Medical Examiner Donald Reay said showed the murders were "sexually charged."

Prosecutors say that's one factor that links Russell, who has pleaded not guilty, to all three killings.

Yesterday's testimony placed Pohlreich and Russell at Papagayo's on June 22. Pohlreich arrived with Bryant and another friend about 8:30 p.m. Russell arrived about 9 p.m. with Smith McLain, testified Erika Avis, and the three had dinner with several other friends at a table for eight.

McLain testified earlier this week that Russell took his pickup truck without permission that night and didn't return it until the next day, with vomit and red stains that subsequently proved to be the same type blood as Pohlreich's, prosecutors say.

Avis, 19, testified she saw Pohlreich there as well, that Pohlreich and Russell, both Papagayo's regulars, knew each other. That night, she said, Russell told her he'd seen Pohlreich.

Avis said Russell also knew Levine, and that she, Russell and another friend had gone to Levine's Kingsgate apartment one night last year after Levine's truck had broken down and she called for a ride.

It was in connection especially with the Levine case that the length of Russell's fingernails was of interest to prosecutors. After Levine was killed by repeated blows to the head, the medical examiner testified this week, she was cut more than 200 times and scratched with something - possibly fingernails - that left long marks all across her torso.

Francis testified yesterday that Russell's fingernails, now cut short, as he held up his hands at the prosecutor's request, last summer were as long as hers: "Women's mid-length," she said.

Russell left Papagayo's that night with a woman about midnight, testified Bellevue police Officer Mike Beckdelt, who was off duty at the club that night. Beckdelt said Russell told him he was taking the woman home to get something.