Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

A 40-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in prison for choking a transgender woman to death during a sex act and dumping the body behind an Anaheim Dairy Queen.

Randy Lee Parkerson was convicted May 17 of second-degree murder in the death of 28-year-old Zoraida Reyes.

Parkerson, an unemployed methamphetamine user, routinely met men and transgender people online and got together with them in person for sex, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy.

The defendant met Reyes online, and he picked her up in Santa Ana on June 10, 2014, the prosecutor said.

They negotiated oral sex for $10 in his car, which led to another sex act that involved choking to deprive the recipient of oxygen to heighten sexual pleasure, McGreevy said.

Afterward, he noticed Reyes wasn’t moving and saw blood on her face, the prosecutor said. He pushed her body further down in the backseat and drove to a motel, where he dragged the body into the car’s trunk, McGreevy said.

Parkerson drove around the Southland looking for a place to get rid of the body, which was in his trunk for two days, the prosecutor said. He eventually dumped the victim at 201 N. State College Blvd. in a Dairy Queen lot, where she was found on June 12, McGreevy said.

Investigators matched DNA on the victim to Parkerson, whose DNA was collected after a DUI conviction, and by testing a beer can the defendant discarded while he was under surveillance, McGreevy said. He was arrested in October 2014.

Records on Parkerson’s smart phone show he searched for information on second-degree murder, manslaughter and “how bad is it in prison,” McGreevy said.

The cause of Reyes’ death was asphyxiation, and a coroner told investigators it would take two to six minutes to choke a victim to death, the prosecutor said.

Parkerson’s attorney, Sara Nakada, said her client “never intended to kill” Reyes, calling it a “tragic accident.”

“The furthest thing from Randy Parkerson’s mind was killing Zoraida Reyes,” Nakada said. “What was on his mind was oral sex.”

Parkerson started smoking methamphetamine in June 2014, prompting him to seek out sexual encounters with “strangers in motel rooms, his home and even in his car,” Nakada said.

“The drugs made him more sexual and sexually curious,” Nakada said.

During sex with Reyes, Parkerson touched her arm a few times and eased off because he was concerned about her choking, Nakada said. However, Reyes said, “No, no, I like it. Keep going,” the defense attorney said.

When Parkerson saw the blood on Reyes’ face from a nose bleed, he “panicked,” Nakada said.

Reyes’ friend, Jiselle Neel, said after today’s hearing that she met Reyes through a support group for transgender people and that they were friends for about six years.

“She was just such a gentle, peaceful person,” Neel said. “She lit up a room wherever she went. She had this gentle strength that brought people together.”

In denying probation, Orange County Superior Court Judge Glenda Sanders noted the defendant “went to great lengths to cover up his conduct,” which included, “the hiding and disposal of evidence, which indicated a lack of remorse.”

Parkerson “did not come forward to explain what he says was an accident” until much later, Sanders said.

—City News Service

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