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Student's Murderer Sentenced to Death

September 19, 1987|JERRY HICKS | Times Staff Writer

Maxine Britton had tried before to come to the courtroom to face Martin James Kipp, the man who killed her 19-year-old daughter.

Once at his preliminary hearing she blacked out.

Then she testified briefly at his trial, and became so shaken that a deputy district attorney had to help her from the courtroom.

But Friday in Santa Ana, when Superior Court Judge Donald A. McCartin formally sentenced Kipp to death, Britton was there.

She broke into loud sobs when deputy marshals led the long-haired killer into the courtroom. She cried throughout the 45-minute proceeding. And afterward she was in such distress that her mother, Mary Washington, and her daughter, Consuella Elliott, had to help her out. But she was there.

"Maybe my baby can rest now," Britton said.

Kipp, 30, was convicted in the Dec. 30, 1983, slaying of Antaya Yvette Howard of Huntington Beach, a former basketball star at Marina High School, one of Britton's three children.

Kipp will now face a trial in the Sept. 17, 1983, slaying of Tiffany Frizzell, 19, of Puget Sound, Wash., at a Long Beach motel. If convicted and given a death sentence in Los Angeles County, he would be only the second inmate of the 189 on Death Row at San Quentin Prison to have received death sentences in two counties.

McCartin permitted Orange County prosecutors to use evidence from the Frizzell slaying in the Howard case. Jurors also listened to testimony from two of Kipp's victims in previous sexual assaults.

Kipp's attorney, Michael A. Horan, cautioned Britton and her family in court that his final statement Friday would bother them. Then he told the court the good things he had come to learn about Kipp by representing him--that Kipp had a sense of humor, an infectious personality, a gentleness that Kipp doesn't let many people see.

"He hates the Martin Kipp who is accused of these crimes," Horan said. "But he understood that Martin Kipp as best he could."

That wasn't the side that Maxine Britton saw.

In a recent interview at her home, she said that facing Kipp when she testified was one of the hardest moments of her life.

'A Piece of Stone'

"He looked at me like I was a piece of stone," she said. "I think that's what hurt me more than anything else. He was sitting there twiddling a pencil, like 'Hurry up so I can get back to my cell.' "

Britton and her second husband, Jake, stepfather to her three children, moved to Huntington Beach from Los Angeles when her children were small so they could go to better schools.

Yvette Howard, as she was always called, was active in track, volleyball and basketball.

She was graduated in 1983 and was working at a photography studio in December, awaiting the start of classes at Golden West College.

But on the night of Dec. 30, 1983, Yvette Howard disappeared.

The last thing Britton remembers of that night was reminding her daughter at 10 p.m. that "Knots Landing" had just started on TV. Britton then went to bed. No one in the house saw her daughter leave that night. No one realized she was missing until the next morning.

Seen in Newport Beach

"She must have gone out for cigarettes or something, because she would never have gone out for the evening without telling me," Britton said.

A witness spotted her with Kipp in Newport Beach sometime after midnight. Her body was found in her abandoned car in a Huntington Beach alley five days later.

Consuella Elliott said her family has always been extremely close. Britton said that Yvette had been especially close to her stepfather.

"But this (murder) brought us even closer," Elliott said. "It was kind of scary at first; we were all over-protective of each other."

The family, nearly overcome with grief, buried Yvette's ashes in their backyard, where they have established a small memorial with yellow roses.

And the school has changed the name of its most valuable player trophy to the Yvette Howard Memorial Award in her honor.

"Yvette was a joy," Britton said. It has been four years, but she said, "I just miss her so much I'm in agony all the time."

In his comments in court Friday, the prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Melvin L. Jensen, acknowledged the agony.

He told the court that Kipp should suffer the death penalty not only for what he did to his victims, but the lifelong "hurt" their families will suffer.

McCartin agreed. He noted that Kipp was a Blackfoot Indian from Montana and said that he felt great empathy for Native Americans.

"But I don't believe there is any place in civilized society, including any Indian society, for the likes of Mr. Kipp," the judge said.

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