Trial in 1988 murder starts Monday

A former Costa Mesa resident is scheduled to go to trial Monday for the alleged rape and murder of his neighbor in 1988.

The case was considered cold until police said they linked the defendant's DNA to the crime eight years ago.

Jason Balcom, 41, is charged with murder during a rape, robbery and burglary.

He is accused of entering the home of Kent and Malinda Gibbons, a young newlywed couple who had just moved to Costa Mesa from Utah earlier that month. Police said Balcom lived on the same street as the Gibbonses at the time.

While Kent Gibbons was away at work, Balcom went into the home and tied Malinda Gibbons up with her husband's neckties. He then raped her and stabbed her to death, prosecutors allege. She was four to six weeks pregnant when she was killed.

Authorities claim the DNA left on the carpet and on Malinda Gibbons' body matches Balcom's. They linked it to him after his DNA was entered into a national database following his 2004 rape conviction in Michigan, where before transported to Orange County, he has been serving a 30- to 50-year sentence.

Balcom's trial is scheduled to start Monday morning at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

—Joseph Serna

Twitter: @JosephSerna

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World