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Killer in 1998 slaying of Long Beach woman sentenced to death

June 26, 2013|By Matt Hamilton

A man was sentenced to death Wednesday in the 1998 killing of a Long Beach woman who was tortured and sexually assaulted before her body was dumped on an embankment along the San Diego Freeway.

Kevin Darnell Pearson, 36, was one of three men who raped, robbed and beat to death 43-year-old Penny Keprta, also known as Penny Sigler, on the night of Dec. 29, 1998.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Corene Locke-Noble, who prosecuted all three killers, said Keprta’s body was “totally unrecognizable” after the gruesome attack.

In 2003, a jury found Pearson guilty on eight counts, including first-degree murder and torture, and issued a death penalty verdict.

Last year, the California Supreme Court unanimously overturned Pearson’s death sentence, finding a prospective juror in the 2003 trial was improperly removed from the panel for having “equivocal” views about capital punishment.

A retrial of the penalty phase began February at the Long Beach courthouse. In April, the jury issued a death penalty verdict. The judge imposed that sentence Wednesday.

During the retrial, jurors heard from Keprta’s son, Teddy, who was 15 years old at the time of his mother’s slaying. Because the two shared the same birthday, he said, they had an especially close bond.

The two other killers, Jamelle Armstrong and Warren Hardy, were previously convicted and sentenced to death. Both are on death row at San Quentin State Prison.

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