An Orange County judge Friday sentenced a former Garden Grove man to death for the 2009 murders of a salesman and a secretary at a Stanton mobile home business.
Hilbert Pineil Thomas, 43, will be sent to San Quentin's Death Row, although the state has not executed anyone since 2006. Executions have been on hold since then because of a federal court ruling that found the three-drug lethal injection given to condemned prisoners could be seen as cruel and unusual punishment.
According to prosecutors, Thomas was walking past Golden Sun Homes on Beach Boulevard on Feb. 2, 2009, when he decided to steal a car belonging to a secretary inside.
Thomas came in and fatally shot 42-year-old Matthew Francis Scott, a sales associate and son of the business co-owner, and long-time secretary Elizabeth Ann Palmer, 49. Thomas then fled in Palmer's Lexus sedan.
At the sentencing, Scott's father addressed the court, and statement was read on behalf of Palmer's husband and sister, Patricia Moore. Her statement read, in part:
"I have prayed for the courage to say these words, 'I forgive you. Not so you can feel better but so my family, Matt's family, your family and I can heal and move forward.' May God have mercy on you. It's what's Beth would have wanted,"
At first the murders went unsolved.
On Oct. 13, 2009, Thomas was served with a protective order that barred him from contact with his ex-wife after he set her car on fire in Los Angeles County. He also was ordered to surrender any guns.
On Oct. 24, Palmer's Lexus turned up at the El Dorado Inn on Lincoln Avenue in Anaheim. Two days later, Thomas turned over a gun to Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies.
Orange County sheriff's deputies linked Thomas to the stolen car and started investigating him in the murders. Detectives learned about the gun surrendered, and it turned out to have been the murder weapon, prosecutors said.
— City News Service