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D'Arcy Jurors Told of Abuse in Childhood

March 06, 1997|MARTIN MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Jurors deciding the fate of convicted killer Jonathan D'Arcy heard Wednesday about the abuses heaped upon him as a child, including an incident where his mother forced the youngster to eat his own feces after soiling his trousers.

In opening statements of the trial's penalty phase, defense attorney George Peters said the abuse coupled with D'Arcy's brain defects made the Buena Park man prone to violent "psychotic breaks."

The former janitor was convicted in December of killing Karen Marie LaBorde by dousing her with gasoline and setting her afire, but jurors deadlocked on whether he should receive the death penalty for the 1993 attack. The new jury must decide whether to recommend D'Arcy be sentenced to death or serve life in prison without parole.

Peters told jurors Wednesday D'Arcy should be spared because of his pronounced physical and psychological handicaps. Peters devoted much of his remarks to recounting D'Arcy's childhood abuse.

D'Arcy's father abandoned the family two months before he was born, Peters said. His mother, who was on welfare for a time and later worked a graveyard shift, tied up the infant with ropes and left him in his own feces and urine during the day, Peters said.

Earlier this week, D'Arcy, 34, told Orange County Superior Judge Robert Fitzgerald he wanted to be put to death, but the judge responded that the court cannot allow him to, in effect, commit suicide. D'Arcy remains on a hunger strike and is being kept alive by a court-ordered feeding tube.

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