Jury Urges Life Term in Murders of Four

Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury on Wednesday recommended a life sentence without the possibility of parole for a 20-year-old man convicted of the apparently drug-related murders of four people in a South Los Angeles home.

Cedric Wayne Scott, who was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder Feb. 28, could have faced the gas chamber for the slayings of Rebecca Hood, 45; her son, Derrick, 20; her common-law husband, Travis Clark, 49, and a family friend, Larry Simmons, 37. The four were shot to death April 30, 1984, after three men invaded the home they shared in the 4500 block of 4th Avenue.

"No one is sure what happened inside the house," said Deputy Dist. Atty George J. Knoke, who prosecuted the case. However, authorities found drug paraphernalia in the dwelling, and the only survivor, Marcia Cook, testified that Clark "had drugs for sale," according to the prosecutor.

"The people's position was that the motive was robbery," Knoke said, adding that two guns were missing from the house and there were no drugs inside.

Scott was one of three people charged in the killings. A separate trial for Scott's older brother, Albert Egger Scott, is scheduled Monday.

Last November, a third defendant, William James Butler, was acquitted after fewer than two hours of deliberations. The jury foreman said Cook's description of the third assailant was "too dramatically different from what we could see in the courtroom."

Knoke said Cook, a friend of the victims, had gotten a better look at Cedric Scott. As the other two men rushed into the house, Scott grabbed her and told her he had a gun, according to her testimony.

Cook, who was able to break away and flee into the street, where a neighbor found her sobbing hysterically, testified that she opened the door because she recognized Cedric Scott from a visit earlier that evening, the prosecutor said. Another witness also identified him in court.

Knoke told the jury, however, that it should recommend the death penalty only if it found that the defendant was actually one of the gunmen. No "direct evidence" was presented to tie Scott to the shootings, Knoke said outside the courtroom.

Judge Henry P. Nelson set a sentencing hearing for April 18.

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