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California Briefing / Santa Ana

Slaying suspect could get death

March 10, 2009|My-Thuan Tran

The Orange County district attorney will seek the death penalty for a man who is charged with sexually assaulting and killing a pregnant woman in Costa Mesa 21 years ago.

Jason Balcom is accused of gagging Malinda Gibbons, binding her hands and feet with her husband's neckties, and raping and sodomizing her.

Balcom, then 18, allegedly stabbed Gibbons, who was 4 to 6 weeks pregnant, in the chest.

Gibbons' husband returned from work to find his wife's body in their Costa Mesa apartment.

The couple had just moved to Orange County from Utah.

At the time, authorities could not locate a suspect, and DNA testing was not yet available.

But DNA recovered from the scene was uploaded to a national database 11 years later.

In 2004, the DNA was matched to Balcom, whose DNA had been collected in a Michigan rape case.

Balcom, now 38, is serving a 30- to 50-year prison sentence in the Michigan rape case. He is being held at Orange County Jail awaiting an April trial date.

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-- My-Thuan Tran

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