MONTEREY (CBS SF) - A 59-year-old man was found guilty Friday of the notorious 1998 kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of 13-year-old Christina Williams, and was immediately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Charles Allen Holifield was convicted of first-degree murder following a 10-day court trial before Judge Pamela L. Butler in Monterey County Superior Court. Butler also found two special-circumstance allegations that the murder was committed during the commission of kidnapping and the commission of a lewd and lascivious act on a child under the age of 14.
Christina Williams left her family home in the military housing complex in Seaside in June 1998 to walk her dog. The dog was found wandering in the neighborhood with his leash attached, but Christina never returned home. Seven months later, her skeletal remains were discovered under branches in a remote area of Fort Ord off of Imjin Road.
While the medical examiner was unable to determine her cause of death, the circumstances of Christina's disappearance and death indicated she had been murdered.
The FBI was the lead agency investigating the case. Holifield was an early suspect because he was a convicted sex offender who had been found trespassing twice on restricted areas of Fort Ord in 1997.
In April 2017, Holifield was formally charged with Christina's murder after her underwear was re-tested for DNA evidence by the California Department of Justice Crime Laboratory, and sperm cells were located. The DNA profile developed from the sperm cells matched Holifield exactly.
Holifield's two prior sexual assault convictions involved him attacking, strangling and raping teenage girls walking alone in Monterey County in 1979 and 1983. Both of those victims took the stand against Holifield and testified at trial about their ordeals.
Holifield, who had been facing the death penalty, agreed to waive his right to a jury trial in exchange for a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole. The District Attorney's Office entered into this agreement after consulting with the Williams family, who expressed their desire for closure and finality of the judgment in their daughter's case. The decision was also partly based on an executive order issued in March 2019 by Gov. Gavin Newsom, which created an effective moratorium on the death penalty in California.
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