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Week in Review : MAJOR EVENTS, IMAGES AND PEOPLE IN ORANGE COUNTY NEWS : MISCELLANY / NEWSMAKERS AND MILESTONES

November 09, 1986|Times staff writer Marcida Dodson compiled the Week in Review stories

A former Marine could face the death penalty after his conviction last week of murdering and then raping an Irvine woman.

An Orange County Superior Court jury will return Wednesday to begin the penalty phase of the trial of Robert L. Sellers, after finding him guilty of the 1979 slaying and sexual attack.

Sellers could be sentenced to the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Sellers, now 28, admitted that he had become obsessed with 22-year-old Savannah Leigh Anderson, who lived at an apartment complex where he was moonlighting as a security guard. When he learned that she didn't feel the same way, he said, he went into a rage and killed her.

Although his fingerprints had been taken routinely along with those of other security guards in the building, Sellers slipped through the police investigation for five years. But in 1984, Scott Cade, an Irvine Police Department officer reviewing the case, noticed that Sellers' fingerprints matched a bloody print left in Anderson's bathroom.

Sellers' attorney, Jennifer L. Keller, argued that her client was not guilty of rape because one can't rape a corpse. But Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard M. King argued the sexual attack had begun earlier, when Sellers killed the woman, and that his return later was part of one continuous act.

The rape conviction is a special circumstance that could qualify Sellers for the death penalty.

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