LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A former Marine who tortured and killed a young mother in her home when she surprised him during a burglary was sentenced Thursday to death.
Derlyn Threats, 29, was convicted of first-degree murder with special circumstances in the September 2005 death of 24-year-old Carolyn Neville in Vista.
This is a breaking news update. For more, read the earlier story below.
VISTA (CNS) - A former Camp Pendleton Marine sergeant who tortured and fatally stabbed a young mother who caught him stealing video games from her Vista home nearly five years ago could be sentenced Thursday if a judge denies his motion for a new trial.
Derlyn Ray Threats, 29, was convicted last year of first-degree murder and special circumstances in the Sept. 1, 2005, death of 24-year-old Carolyn Neville.
Jurors recommended that Threats be put to death.
Thursday, Vista Judge K. Michael Kirkman will consider a defense motion for a new trial based on allegations of jury misconduct. If the motion is denied, sentencing will follow.
The victim, who had just returned home from dropping her 6-year-old son at school, was stabbed more than 70 times, including final blows from garden shears the defendant got from her garage.
Threats was convicted Nov. 13 of murder, robbery and burglary charges, along with special circumstance allegations of murder during a robbery, murder during a burglary and murder by torture.
In the penalty phase, jurors heard from Neville's 10-year-old son, who said in videotaped testimony that he tries not to think about his mother too much because he doesn't want to cry.
The defendant's mother, Cynthia Allen, said her son meant everything to her and begged the jury to spare his life. She said she had been a crack addict, alcoholic and prostitute who sometimes beat her son because "he got in the way."
Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza told jurors in the penalty phase of trial that the evidence against Threats painted "a damning picture of guilt."
Though injured, Neville was able to get outside, but Threats pulled her back in the house, locked the door and continued to attack her for 20 minutes, Espinoza said.
"She wanted to get away. She wanted to live another day, and you know she was fighting for her life," he said.
He inflicted 70 separate wounds, including 47 to the victim's head, face and neck, mostly while she was alive, a medical examiner investigator testified.
Espinoza called the killing "sadistic -- just a level of horror (with) unspeakable acts," and said Threats was found at a nearby home with the victim's blood splattered on his clothing, providing "damning, compelling evidence of guilt."
Neighbors said they'd seen Threats earlier that day casing the neighborhood looking for homes where, according to authorities, he could steal video games.
According to investigators, before the killing, Threats had been up all night playing video games, and after killing Neville, he went back to loading video games into a suitcase he had taken from her laundry area.
Defense attorney James Weintre told the jury in his closing argument that a neighbor named "Tony" was the real killer. He said Threats was a peaceful and non-violent person who couldn't have committed the murder.
Espinoza said the defense tried to pin the murder on Tony because he is African-American, as is Threats, but that investigators determined that Tony was sleeping when Neville was killed.
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