2 Await Sentencing : Death Penalty Suggested for Officer’s Killer

From United Press International

Jurors recommended the death penalty Wednesday for one of two state prison parolees convicted of shooting to death a Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer during a routine traffic stop.

San Fernando Superior Court jurors in the penalty phase of Kenneth Gay’s murder trial deliberated for just a few hours Tuesday and today before deciding to reject the only other punishment he faced: life in prison without parole.

Gay, 27, of Pacoima faces formal sentencing Sept. 4 by Superior Court Judge Dana Henry.

Separate Trials


Gay and a second parolee, Raynard Cummings, also 27 and from Pacoima, were convicted in May by separate juries of first-degree murder with special circumstances in the 1983 shooting death of Officer Paul Verna, 35.

Cummings’ penalty phase is scheduled to begin July 15.

Prosecutor John Watson said Gay and Cummings shot Verna, a Medal of Valor winner and father of two, after he stopped their car for running a stop sign in Lake View Terrace.

Wives in Car


Also in the car, which Verna did not know was stolen, were the defendants’ wives.

Watson said Cummings fired the first shot--and possibly the second--that struck Verna, then handed the gun to Gay, who emptied the remaining bullets into the wounded officer as he staggered away, killing him.

The prosecutor said Gay and Cummings killed Verna to avoid being arrested for driving the stolen car and to avoid being linked to a series of robberies they had committed in the San Fernando Valley.

Furnished Getaway Car

Gay’s wife, Robin Gay, 24, was previously convicted of being an accessory to Verna’s murder and of three robberies and was sentenced to six years in state prison. Watson said she furnished the getaway car for her husband and the Cummings couple.

Cummmings’ wife, Pamela, 26, had also been charged with Verna’s murder, but she made a deal with prosecutors in which the counts would be dismissed if she testified truthfully against her husband and Kenneth Gay.