RIVERSIDE — The confessed killer of a Garden Grove woman stabbed to death with an ice pick was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison Thursday after new details of the slaying were disclosed in a probation report.
Cameron Seaholm, 22, pleaded guilty in September to the first-degree murder of Denise Duerr, 21, who was found dead in April.
During sentencing Thursday before Superior Court Judge Dennis Myers, Seaholm apologized for the slaying and said he wished he could exchange places with his victim. Seaholm and Duerr had been friends since high school, and he had temporarily been living in an apartment that Duerr shared with her boyfriend, Clyde Spontak.
Duerr's mother, Maryellen Ducharme of Garden Grove, was in court at the time of the sentencing Thursday morning. She said in an interview afterward, "I was surprised at the confession (that Seaholm had given to probation officials) but it did answer a lot of questions that had been unanswered" about how and where the killing had occurred.
According to the probation report, Seaholm was waiting for Duerr in a garage area near where Duerr and Spontak lived. Seaholm, according to the document, originally intended to hit Duerr over the back of her head. But when he started to do that, she turned and saw him, so he stabbed her to death, the probation report said. Then, the report added, he raped the young woman.
Seaholm was convicted on his own admission, and thus there was no trial. He could have faced life in prison without possibility of parole if he had been convicted of the rape charge.
Ducharme said she was satisfied with Seaholm's sentence. "I'm active in an organization called Parents of Murdered Children, and people in that group tell me we could not have gotten a better sentence if this had gone to trial because he (Seaholm) had no prior conviction. And even the D.A. said that had it gone to trial, we could not have gotten a better sentence."
Ducharme said she is glad she did not have to go through the emotionally draining experience of a full trial. "I don't know how mothers go through trials," she said. "I am just glad this is over with."
With her voice laden with emotion, Ducharme said, "Denise was my only child. She was also my best friend."
The Duerr murder was one of Orange County's most sensational cases. The young woman's partially clothed body was found April 19 in a ditch near the Riverside Freeway in the Corona area. Officers at the time theorized that her body had been put in the trunk of a car and later dumped at the site.
The day after the discovery of the body, Seaholm was arrested at his stepfather's house in Lake Elsinore, where Duerr's Pontiac Fiero was found.
A few days after Seaholm's arrest, police took Spontak into custody, suspecting that he had been an accomplice. But Spontak was released a week later when laboratory and lie detector tests indicated that he was not involved in the stabbing.
Seaholm initially told police that he stole Duerr's car and discovered her body in the trunk after the car had a flat tire. He only admitted dumping the victim's body.
Friends of Duerr and Spontak said Seaholm was jealous of Duerr because of the attention Spontak paid to her.