After a lengthy trial that was interrupted by the swapping out of two jury members, former L.A. Fire Captain David Del Toro was finally handed his conviction today: second-degree murder of 42-year-old homeless woman Jennifer Flores on the night of August 16, 2006, near his home in Eagle Rock. He'll qualify for a possible sentence of 15 years (the maximum sentence would be life).
How did 54-year-old Del Toro escape the first-degree charge? Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace told City News Service that "intoxication was a factor here -- there was no disguising the fact that the defendant was drunk."
He was also sleep-deprived. Del Toro had recently worked three 24-hour shifts...
... and was in a "twilight state of confusion," according to his attorney.
"For a fact I don't remember killing her,'' Del Toro said at the trial. "I don't believe I killed her ... I just didn't kill her. I don't know how I'd know -- but I didn't kill her.''
But, going by today's ruling, he did kill Flores. And the murder was a gruesome one: A trail of bloody tire tracks led police from her naked body lying in the street -- with broken nose, jaw and ribs -- to Del Toro's doorstep.
The Associated Press states as fact that Flores had "refused to have sex with him." During today's closing statements, attorney Grace argued that Del Toro "tried to have sex" with the victim, but killed her after "she said no."
Still, the overwhelming sentiment in the courtroom was relief that Del Toro received a conviction at all.
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This was his story at the beginning, via the LA Daily News:
Jennifer Flores, 42, had gone over to David Del Toro's Eagle Rock home the night of Aug. 15, 2006, and had asked to wash her clothes and stay the night, the former Los Angeles Fire Department captain told detectives after he was arrested the next morning.
Earlier that night, a man Del Toro identified only as "Rick" or "Nick" - a friend of Flores whom the defense has suggested killed her - allegedly called on her at the house, Del Toro said. The man left after speaking briefly with Flores.
"This guy was a vagabond, man, I'm telling you," Del Toro told Detective Al Aldaz, describing the man as a "tweaker" with long hair and thin build. "I thought, 'Here's another loser... I have two people I have to watch out for now."'
The second-degree murderer's sentencing has yet to be scheduled.