Rachael Mullenix, the Huntington Beach teenager who conspired with her love-struck boyfriend to murder her mother and dump the slashed body into Newport Harbor, expressed only grudging and limited remorse Friday as a judge sentenced her to 25 years to life in prison.
"I don't care what the jury thought. I did not do that to my mother," Mullenix, 19, told Orange County Superior Court Judge David Thompson. "I can't even believe this is happening to me."
Despite a jury's verdict of first-degree murder in July and her admission that she helped cover up the slaying of her 56-year-old mother, Mullenix continued to insist that she did not inflict any of the 52 wounds found on Barbara Mullenix's body, which included a slashed jugular vein and a butter knife in the eye.
Still, as tears rolled from her eyes, Mullenix described her mother as "my world" and "my life" and said she woke with guilt in her jail cell every morning. "Even though I didn't do it," she said, "I feel like I didn't do enough to prevent it."
To prosecutor Sonia Balleste, the words reflected a killer who was an expert in displays of emotions designed to elicit pity. This was the same cold-hearted teenager, Balleste had argued in court, who manipulated her smitten boyfriend, Ian W. Allen, into taking part in the murder.
"It's just chilling to hear a sociopath talk like that," Balleste said after Friday's sentencing hearing. "If you ever get used to it, there's a problem. I hope I never do."
Instead of showing true remorse for the crime, she said, Mullenix remained fixated on herself. "It's all about her and what she feels," Balleste said. But as for her mother, "I don't think she's capable of feeling anything at all."
Balleste argued that Mullenix, who was 17 at the time of the murder, decided to kill her mother in September 2006 after being grounded for breaking her 1 a.m. curfew, and that the abundance of slashes on Barbara Mullenix proved that she and Allen attacked her together.
Bruce Mullenix, the victim's ex-husband and the defendant's father, characterized Barbara Mullenix as an abusive alcoholic and told the judge he refused to believe his daughter was a killer.
"I know in my heart that she didn't do this," he said. "Her mother had problems. No one knows how bad it was other than Rachael and myself."
No friends or family spoke on Barbara Mullenix's behalf during the "victim impact" portion of Friday's sentencing hearing.
A law clerk from the district attorney's office rose to read a prepared statement from an anonymous friend of the victim. The statement described Rachael Mullenix as a narcissist with a "black heart" who disposed of her mother like "a piece of garbage."
In handing down the prison term, Thompson pointed to the number of wounds on Barbara Mullenix's body and noted that she was especially vulnerable, given that she was attacked in her own bedroom by someone she trusted.
Her former boyfriend, Allen, 23, was convicted last month of first-degree murder for his role in the killing. He faces 25 years to life when he is sentenced in November.
After the murder, Allen and Rachael Mullenix dumped the body in Newport Harbor and fled toward Florida on Interstate 10, where they were stopped in Louisiana.