Sat, Aug 12, 2006 - Page 7 News List

US jury wants death penalty for killer

AP , SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA

A jury has recommended the death penalty for a former truck driver convicted in the slayings of four women whose mutilated bodies were dumped across California in the 1990s.

Jurors could have recommended either death or life in prison without parole for Wayne Ford, who carried out the killings in 1997 and 1998. The same panel that made the recommendation on Thursday convicted him last month of the slayings.

Judge Michael Smith, who will ultimately decide Ford's fate, scheduled the sentencing for Oct. 20. The judge also was to hear defense motions for a new trial at that time, a Superior Court clerk said.

In 1998, Ford walked into a Humboldt County sheriff's station with a woman's severed breast and told authorities the body part was just the "tip of the iceberg."

He was subsequently charged with the killings of Patricia Tamez, 29; Lanett White, 25; Tina Gibbs, 26; and an unidentified woman whose torso was found in a marsh.

Ford's lawyer had pleaded for leniency during the penalty phase, saying that Ford surrendered in order to stop the killings.

Joseph Canty Jr. said the former trucker had arrived, in tears, just two weeks after the last murder and after having attended a Bible camp.

Some of the victims' relatives asked the jury to recommend death.

"I want to see him dead," said White's father, Bill White. "He's already dead to me."

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