The wife and teenage son of a man shot to death by his 92-year-old father at the defendant’s Old Town residence were collectively awarded $9.5 million Friday by a San Diego jury.
Jurors deliberated for about one day before reaching a wrongful death finding against Richard Landis Peck for killing his son, 51-year-old Robert “Robbie” Peck, on Nov. 14, 2018.
The younger Peck’s son, Ryan, was awarded $7.5 million, while his wife, Annette, was awarded $2 million.
The defendant, who initially faced a murder charge and a potential 50-year-to-life sentence, pleaded guilty earlier this year to a voluntary manslaughter count and was sentenced to three years probation, the terms of which include house arrest and GPS monitoring.
Despite his guilty plea in the criminal case, the defendant testified in the civil trial that he killed his son in self-defense.
He claimed his son was psychologically and emotionally abusive to him and made statements the day of the shooting indicating he might kill his father for inheritance money, including “You’re not going to be alive in the morning.”
Plaintiffs’ attorney Jim Brown told jurors that Peck showed “not one iota of remorse” on the witness stand for killing his son and denied the self-defense theory.
Brown said that if Peck truly feared for his life, he had several other options other than killing his son, including leaving the home and alerting a neighbor. Instead, Brown said Peck loaded up a shotgun and shot his sleeping son in the face.
“(Robert Peck) was not a threat,” Brown told the jury. “It was an execution, not self-defense.”
Defense attorney Douglas Gilliland argued his client had a reasonable belief that his son was going to harm him, particularly giving the statements he allegedly made to his father on the night of his death, as well as Robert Peck’s alcoholism, which Gilliland said prompted police to come to the elder Peck’s house twice in the 90 days Robert Peck lived with his father.
Robert Peck’s heavy drinking also led Annette Peck to kick him out of her house and file for divorce in 2018, Gilliand said, leading Robert to move in with his father. The attorney also said Annette changed the locks at her house to keep her husband away.
Brown argued that Annette wanted to reconcile with her husband and only filed for divorce in order to spur him to change his ways and start recovering from his alcoholism.