A Torrance Superior Court jury has convicted a husband and wife of vandalizing the Palos Verdes Estates home that they claim was stolen from them by deposed Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Harry and Vilumin McMullin each face up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine when they are sentenced March 16 for vandalizing the home they once owned on Via Romero.
After two days of deliberation, the jury reached its verdict on the vandalism charge on Wednesday. It deadlocked 10-2, however, in favor of conviction on an additional charge that the couple stole all of the house's elegant appointments, right down to the onyx and hardwood floors.
Police said the couple caused $200,000 damage when they stripped the home in August, 1986.
The McMullins, who now live in New Mexico, claimed that they had made payments on the home and that a 1985 foreclosure by a Panamanian bank was improper. They claimed that Marcos had an interest in the bank, Comercio Insular, and forced the foreclosure after the couple advocated the overthrow of the Philippine ruler.
Deputy Public Defender Rudy Rousseau said that, regardless of the argument over title to the home, the McMullins believed they owned the interior improvements that they made after moving there in 1977.
"There was no intent to steal any of the property or to do damage to the property," Rousseau said.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Betty Seawell argued that the couple had to know that they did not own the home because they signed a lease to rent the property after the foreclosure.
She also said the McMullins made an agreement with bank officials that when they left the home, they would take only two chandeliers, carpeting, antique stained glass and furniture.
"They were not given permission to take anything else," Seawell said.
The district attorney's office is expected to decide within a week whether to refile charges of grand theft.
Also pending in Torrance Superior Court is the McMullins' $116-million lawsuit that charges Marcos, Comercio Insular and several other defendants with stealing their home.