A man already serving time for murder was convicted Tuesday of a fatal attack nearly four decades ago on a woman who was bludgeoned in the head with an eight-pound weight and stabbed 16 times in her Silver Lake apartment.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated about four hours before finding Harold Anthony Parkinson, now 60, guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Stephanie Sommers.
The seven-man, five-woman panel also found true the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a rape, along with allegations that Parkinson used a weight and a knife in the commission of the August 1980 attack on the 36-year-old woman.
Jurors did not hear that Parkinson is already serving a 15-year-to-life state prison sentence for an unrelated murder. He admitted a second special circumstance allegation — murder with a prior murder conviction — outside the jury’s presence after its verdict.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office opted not to seek the death penalty against Parkinson, who is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. Sentencing is set for Dec. 2 before Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy.
“Tragically, this case is about the brutal rape and murder that she (the victim) suffered at the hands of the defendant 39 years ago,” Deputy District Attorney Lowrie Mendoza told the jury.
The case went unsolved for several decades until cold case detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department got a lead that Parkinson — who had lived a mile away from the victim — could be a suspect in the killing, the prosecutor said .
A DNA sample collected from Parkinson was consistent with the DNA profile from a sperm sample collected from the victim, who had grown up in Redondo Beach, Mendoza told jurors. Sommers had briefly been married to a man, but had subsequently told some of her friends that she was a lesbian, the prosecutor said.
Parkinson’s attorney, Jesus Lopez, told jurors that Sommers “had sex with Mr. Parkinson” within five days of her death. But the defense lawyer said there was “not one shred of evidence … that will place Mr. Parkinson in that apartment,” where she had struggled with her assailant before being slain.
“Mr. Parkinson did not kill her. Mr. Parkinson did not rape her,” Lopez said. “The simple truth is that Mr. Parkinson did not commit this crime.”
Sommers’ sister, Sheridan Roberts, was called as the prosecution’s first witness. She told jurors that she and her mother had both been trying to reach her younger sibling before learning that she had been found dead.
The victim’s nephew, Kelly Roberts, testified that he had been waiting for his “Auntie Steph” to pick him up for two days for a trip to Magic Mountain as a belated birthday gift and had unsuccessfully been trying to reach her. He said his mother ordered him out of the house when the phone rang and he went crying to a neighbor, who walked him back home, went inside the house and came back out to inform him that his aunt had been “brutally murdered.”