A jury on Tuesday recommended the death penalty for an Altadena man who murdered a friend’s mother and her three young daughters and then set the family’s Lancaster home on fire.
Jurors deliberated about two hours before returning their verdict in the penalty phase of Corey Lynn King’s trial, during which Assistant Head Deputy Robert Sherwood told the panel of another murder the defendant is suspected of committing.
“These were really horrific facts,” Sherwood said shortly after the verdict.
King, 24, is due back in a Lancaster courtroom Feb. 20 to be formally sentenced, after a judge hears an automatic motion on whether to reduce the jury’s death recommendation to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
King was convicted Nov. 25 of four counts of first-degree murder for the Sept. 9, 2008, killings of Sonya Harris, 43, and her daughters, Kayla Clark, 9, Melinda Harris, 11, and Ebony Horton, 14.
Jurors found true the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and torture in the killings of Harris and her two older daughters, and also convicted him of one count each of arson of an inhabited structure and grand theft auto.
Harris was stabbed more than 50 times and her 14-year-old daughter was stabbed more than 60 times. The woman’s 11-year-old daughter was beaten and stomped to death, along with being stabbed, and her 9-year-old daughter was strangled, according to the prosecutor.
King was a friend of Harris’ son, who was out of state when the defendant showed up at the home.
After killing the victims, King drove to a nearby gas station to buy gasoline, which he poured over the bodies and throughout the house before setting it on fire.
Sherwood said an argument might have been the motive for Harris’ murder and that her three daughters were killed because they were witnesses to their mother’s slaying.
King surrendered shortly after midnight the day after the bodies were found inside the burning home in the 1500 block of East Avenue J-3.
During the trial’s penalty phase, jurors heard evidence about the May 2008 bludgeoning death of a 90-year-old grandmother in Altadena — a crime in which King is suspected but has not been charged, according to Sherwood.
The jury also heard about an alleged attack by King on a sheriff’s deputy in county jail in February 2013, for which he has been charged, the prosecutor said.
— City News Service