A state appeals court panel Friday upheld a Vietnam War veteran’s double murder conviction for shooting his sleeping 68-year-old wife in the head at their Canyon Country home and then doing the same to his ailing 59-year-old sister at a North Hills nursing facility.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal turned down the defense’s contention that there were errors in Lance Anderson’s trial.
Superior Court Judge Hayden Zacky — who heard the case after Anderson waived his right to a jury trial — found him guilty in July 2016 of first- degree murder for the Dec. 11, 2013, killings of his wife, Bertha “Maxine” Anderson, and his sister, Lisa Nave, who had to be fed through a feeding tube and was unable to care for herself.
“Substantial evidence supports the court’s implicit conclusion that defendant acted with malice when he killed Maxine and Lisa,” the appellate court justices found in a 37-page ruling, noting that the judge found that “the law simply does not allow a person to go in and end somebody’s life in this matter.”
The appeals court panel found that the evidence showed that Anderson “carefully planned and considered” shooting his wife and sister, who “had the misfortune of being afflicted with medical maladies.”
Anderson shot his sister once in the head at Country Villa Sheraton Convalescent and Rehabilitation Hospital, then walked out to a patio area where he was sitting when police arrived.
Soon afterward, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies performing a welfare check at Anderson’s home found his wife dead on the bed from a gunshot wound to the head, along with a handwritten note in the kitchen that read in part, “Sleep well. You will suffer no more. Give everyone my love. I will join you soon enough,” according to the appellate court panel’s ruling.
He subsequently told a Los Angeles Police Department detective that his wife of about 32 years had a history of serious health problems and was suffering from depression, anxiety and “24/7 hot flashes” as a result of hormonal problems after successfully battling breast cancer, according to the ruling. The defendant told the detective that his sister had a heart attack about six years earlier that caused her to suffer severe brain damage, the justices noted.
He also told detectives that he planned to shoot his wife and then himself, then thought about his sister and decided to “sacrifice my freedom for theirs,” according to the ruling. He said he had served in the military for six years during the Vietnam War and had been diagnosed with PTSD, the justices noted.
Anderson contended in the appeal that the trial court erred in admitting his statements to Los Angeles Police Department and Sheriff’s Department detectives and that the court had applied an incorrect legal standard for voluntary manslaughter. He also unsuccessfully challenged his 100-year-to-life sentence, which was handed down in August 2016.
–City News Service