A 25-year-old Ventura man was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole for stabbing a couple and their unborn son to death in their beachfront home nearly six years ago.
The 2009 slayings shocked the area's tranquil beach communities. Then-Sheriff Bob Brooks called the incident "one of the most tragic multiple homicides in the history of Ventura County."
Joshua Packer pleaded guilty in December to first-degree murder in the killings of Brock and Davina Husted and their unborn child.
The Husteds were watching TV on the night of May 20, 2009, when Packer entered their home through an open door and demanded money, prosecutors said.
Packer sexually assaulted Davina Husted and then stabbed the couple to death.
The couple's 9-year-old son, who was home at the time, said in affidavits unsealed in 2010 that he tried to get the intruder to leave by offering the man his parents' wallets.
The son later told detectives he saw the man take his parents into a back bedroom, promising "not to hurt the children," then he heard his mother scream. The intruder fled.
The Husteds' son and daughter, ages 9 and 11, were not physically harmed in the attack.
In interviews with detectives, the 9-year-old said he and his parents had just finished watching "American Idol" when a gunman entered their house wearing black clothes and a motorcycle helmet concealing his entire face except for his eyes, which were covered by a clear visor.
The intruder ordered them to the floor and demanded money and jewelry. His mother told the boy to give the intruder her wallet from her purse and take cash out of her and his father's wallets.
The boy told detectives he placed cash and a wallet on the floor at the intruder's feet. He heard both parents ask the man "to promise not to hurt the children," according to the affidavit. He heard the intruder promise he would not.
The boy told detectives he saw his parents run down the hallway toward their bedroom, followed by the man. The boy hid behind a living room couch. Minutes later, he heard his mother scream, then saw the intruder run out.
He ran to his parents' bedroom and found them in a pool of blood, and a kitchen butcher knife lying in the blood.
He ran to wake his 11-year-old sister. Terrified, they ran to check on their parents. Then they locked themselves in their parents' bathroom. After a few minutes, they climbed out through a bathroom window and ran to a neighbor's house for help.
Brock Husted, 42, owned a wrought-iron business in Santa Barbara. Davina Husted, also 42, was active in the National Charity League, a women's philanthropic organization.
Packer's plea came after the state Supreme Court ordered a hearing on whether Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Mike Frawley should be removed from the case. His children had spent time with Packer in a Christian youth group.
"Protracted litigation and the ordeal of a lengthy trial would have served no one's interests and accomplished nothing beneficial," Ventura County Public Defender Stephen P. Lipson said in a statement. "Had the case gone to trial, we are convinced the jury would have arrived at the exact same result we agreed upon today."
FOR THE RECORD
1:32 p.m.: An earlier version of this article said Stephen P. Lipson was Joshua Packer's attorney. Lipson is the Ventura County public defender. Two other attorneys from his office, Ben Maserang and Gay Zide, served as Packer's attorneys.