In breaking news just coming into the newsroom at this hour.
Yosemite killer Cary Stayner has been sentenced to death for the 1999 slayings of three park tourists. The former motel handyman has been ordered to die by lethal injection in a California state prison.
Judge Thomas Hastings became emotional and abruptly left the bench before imposing the death sentence reached by a San Jose jury in October. Victims´ family members and jurors who had returned to the courtroom also wept.
Hastings rejected defense claims that juror misconduct prevented a fair trial and said there was overwhelming evidence against Stayner. He said the killings took a devastating emotional toll that justified execution.
Stayner was convicted of murdering Carole Sund, her 15-year-old daughter Juli, and their Argentine friend, 16-year-old Silvina Pelosso, during a trip to Yosemite in February 1999.
Stayner’s crime spread fear throughout California until he was arrested for beheading a nature guide six months later. The jury rejected the insanity defense.
The case automatically will be appealed and is expected to spend many more years in court.