updated 3/15/2007 11:22:16 PM ET 2007-03-16T03:22:16

A judge on Thursday ordered two elderly women to stand trial on charges of murdering two transients to collect more than $2.8 million in life insurance policies.

Superior Court Judge David S. Wesley ruled that there was sufficient evidence to try Helen Golay, 76, and Olga Rutterschmidt, 74. They were scheduled to be arraigned March 29.

The women, who have pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder for financial gain, were ordered held without bail.

Investigators allege the women befriended Paul Vados and Kenneth McDavid to take out life insurance policies in their names, then collected the money by drugging each victim and running him over with a car. Vados, 73, was killed in 1999 and McDavid, 51, was killed in 2005.

The women claimed in insurance policies that McDavid and Vados were variously their relatives, fiances and business associates, authorities said.

Prosecutor Shellie Samuels told the judge the women housed and fed the men and paid their monthly insurance premiums during the two-year period when insurers can contest policies deemed fraudulent.

"It was a huge investment," Samuels said, adding that the women were too old to "wait for them to die."

"The only way for the fraud to pay off is to kill these victims," she said.

Rutterschmidt's attorney, Michael H. Sklar, tried to shift suspicion from his client to Golay, saying that Golay had upped McDavid's life insurance shortly before his death and tried to delete Rutterschmidt from the policy.

Sklar also referred to earlier testimony from an FBI agent that bottles of hydrocodone were found in Golay's home. Coroners found the painkiller in McDavid's body.

Golay's lawyer, Roger Jon Diamond, did not offer arguments at the end of the hearing but claimed that early jail wakeups had left Golay too weary to communicate with him. He said this violated her constitutional right to effective legal counsel.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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