Lawrence Singleton was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday for stabbing a prostitute in his home a decade after his controversial parole in the mutilation-rape of a 15-year-old California girl.
Singleton showed no reaction when the verdict was read less than four hours after jurors began deliberating.
The children and longtime boyfriend of the victim, Roxanne Hayes, sat in the second row of the courtroom. Her boyfriend, Clifton Tyson, breathed heavily.
Mary Vincent, the California hitchhiker whom Singleton was convicted of mutilating, planned to testify during the sentencing phase, which was to start Monday.
Singleton, 70, could face the death penalty for killing the 31-year-old mother of three in his living room on Feb. 19, 1997.
Earlier Friday, Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner wrapped up arguments by mocking Singleton's testimony that he and Hayes were struggling for a knife when she somehow stabbed herself.
"If you are to believe Lawrence Singleton, this lunatic Roxanne Hayes ... became enraged and threatened to decapitate him," Pruner said in his closing arguments.
Singleton testified Thursday that he and Hayes were fighting for control of a knife when it plunged seven times into her face, chest and stomach. Pruner said Singleton's testimony that Hayes remained silent each of the times the knife entered her body is not credible.
"If you are to look for credible evidence, don't look at the defense's testimony," Pruner said.
At the start of its presentation, the defense said the wounds were inflicted during a "spontaneous eruption of emotion" and that Singleton never meant to kill Hayes.
"We have never attempted ... for even one moment to say that Larry Singleton was not responsible for what happened to Roxanne Hayes and I'm not going to insult your intelligence by doing that now," defense attorney Jill Menadier said. "(But) Lawrence Singleton never at any time made a decision to kill Roxanne Hayes."
Singleton told jurors he was depressed, drunk and over-medicated when he decided to pick up Hayes, a prostitute whom he had met several months earlier. He brought her home and paid her $20 for oral sex.
Both were nude and he was handing her $10 for a cab ride home when she grabbed for his wallet, he said. When he fought to get it back, she picked up a knife he kept on the living room table to chop vegetables while watching TV.
The struggle lasted about 30 seconds, and each time he pulled Hayes' arm downward to pry the knife from her hand, she apparently stabbed herself, Singleton testified.
He said he didn't realize she was injured until she lay dying on his sofa and asked him to hold her in his arms, he said.
"She put both her arms around me and asked me to hold her. So I held her tight. We were embracing."
At that point, he said, he realized Hayes was injured and bleeding heavily. He eant to call 911, he said, but picked up the remote control instead and threw it down.
"I told her, we've got to get to the hospital," Singleton said. He then tried to help her walk to the door, but his knee went out and they collapsed on the dining room floor.
"I sat there and cried and rubbed her face and tried to talk to her," he told jurors.
Asked by his attorney if Hayes responded, Singleton replied:
"Not at all. She was dead."
The retired merchant seaman was convicted of raping Vincent, chopping off her arms with an ax and leaving her for dead on the side of a road. She survived to testify against him.
When he was released on parole in 1987, several California towns refused to take him in amid police and prosecutors' predictions he would try to kill again.
Written by Lisa Holewa
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