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Serial Killer's Fate Is Argued in Court

The defense says Wayne Ford is remorseful. The prosecution insists only death fits the crimes.

July 28, 2006|Maeve Reston | Times Staff Writer

In the final phase of serial killer Wayne Adam Ford's trial, a prosecutor told a San Bernardino County jury Thursday that death was the only suitable punishment for a man who killed three prostitutes and a hitchhiker and dumped their nude bodies in California waterways "like trash."

The brutal way Ford killed and disposed of the four young women -- strangling them during intercourse, cutting off some of their body parts and keeping them as souvenirs -- showed the Arcata, Calif., truck driver does not value life and would not feel remorse if sentenced to life in prison, J. David Mazurek said.

"These are some of the most horrific brutal crimes you could ever see," Mazurek said, as he flashed images of the women's dismembered bodies on a projection screen. "He doesn't just do it once -- he does it over and over again."

"Is that the kind of person life in prison would have an impact on?" Mazurek said. "Justice demands that death be imposed."

But Ford's attorney pleaded with the jury of seven women and five men Thursday to spare Ford's life because the killer tearfully surrendered at the sheriff's station in Humboldt County less than two weeks after killing his final victim.

Deputy Public Defender Joseph D. Canty Jr. said the long-haul driver "was tortured and disgusted by what was happening."

After killing Hesperia prostitute Patricia Ann Tamez, Canty said Ford went to a Northern California Bible camp seeking a way to stop the killings.

"This man is here because he repented," Canty said. "Wayne Ford's life is now in your hands. You have the power to decide to condemn him or let him live out his life.... The decision you make will speak to society about the consequences" of surrendering.

Ford's killing spree began in late October 1997 when he picked up a still-unidentified hitchhiker near his home in the town of Arcata, near Eureka.

As in all four killings, he told investigators the victim accidentally died at his hands during consensual sex while he choked her -- a practice he claimed was intended to increase the women's sexual pleasure.

Ford dismembered his first victim, identified as Humboldt County Jane Doe, and kept her thighs in his freezer. A kayaker found the woman's torso.

Between June and October 1998, Ford picked up the three prostitutes -- Tina Renee Gibbs, 26, of Las Vegas, Lanett White, 25, of Ontario and Patricia Ann Tamez, 29, of Hesperia -- while driving his big-rig.

In early November 1998, Ford called his brother asking for help. He surrendered the next day at the Humboldt County sheriff's station with Tamez's breast in a Ziploc bag in his jacket pocket.

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