A state appeals court panel Wednesday upheld a man’s conviction for murdering his pregnant girlfriend, whose body was discovered buried in his Compton backyard.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected Devion Keith Anderson‘s contention that his trial attorney was ineffective for failing to object to testimony about the defendant’s conduct after the December 2013 strangulation of 18-year-old Maria Gonzalez, who was 14 weeks pregnant.
“He was patently not prejudiced by his counsel’s failure to object because the jury found the premeditation and deliberation allegation untrue,” the justices found in a 15-page ruling.
The appellate court panel also turned down Anderson’s claim that the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing him to two consecutive terms of 15 years to life.
“The facts on which the court relied — appellant drowning Maria in a bucket of water when he believed she was still alive, burying her to conceal the murder, lying to his family, and then fleeing the scene — showed at the very least that the murders involved ‘acts disclosing a high degree of cruelty, viciousness or callousness,”‘ the justices ruled.
Sheriff’s deputies responded on Dec. 23, 2013, to a 911 call from a family member at Anderson’s home, and deputies discovered a mound of freshly dug dirt in the backyard. The woman’s body was found after the area was excavated.
Anderson went to the Compton sheriff’s station the next day and admitted to the killing and burial of Gonzalez. He was charged with a second count of murder after authorities determined that she was pregnant.
Anderson was convicted in February 2015 of two counts of second-degree murder.
–City News Service