When an 18-year-old native of the Netherlands is sentenced later this month for killing his guardian, a Dana Point man who had molested him for years, his staunchest supporters will be the jury that convicted him.
Since the conviction, one member of that jury has offered to take him into her home. Two others have offered him money.
In a highly unusual twist, Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert R. Fitzgerald has received letters from jurors, many of whom described the slain man as an "animal," indicating they will speak on Joeri DeBeer's behalf when he is sentenced on June 20. Even though sympathizing with DeBeer, the jurors said that they had to convict him based on the evidence. But they say they plan to ask for probation.
DeBeer, who was tried as an adult, was convicted May 21 of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Phillip Allen Parsons.
During the trial, DeBeer testified that he had borrowed a gun and had shot Parsons in a fit of rage on April 9, 1985, after the older man tried to molest and then choke him.
DeBeer then put the body in Parsons' van and drove to Riverside County, where he poured gasoline on the corpse and set it afire. He then returned to Dana Point and set Parsons' apartment on fire.
He was also found guilty of using a weapon and arson and could receive a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison or be placed in the California Youth Authority.
Joeri DeBeer was born in Bussen, the Netherlands. His mother later divorced, remarried and moved to Saudi Arabia, where Parsons met him. At the time, Parsons was working as a Bechtel Co. electrician, and expressed an interest in DeBeer's love of motocross racing.
Parsons offered to bring the boy, then 13, to the United States and promised to make a motorcycle racing champion of him and to become his guardian. In court, DeBeer testified that Parsons began to "use him" sexually four to five times a week.
"Joeri got caught up in a web of circumstances far beyond his age, circumstances no one should ever go through,' said juror Patricia de Carion of Santa Ana. "He was brought from a foreign country and could barely understand the language. He told Parsons he didn't want to participate in the activities, and one evening, Parsons approached him again and again and Joeri pulled a gun on him. Parsons got exactly what he deserved."
Since the trial ended, some members of that jury have visited DeBeer at Juvenile Hall.
"I'm not a crusader, but I'm willing to do anything for him," said juror Barbara Barrett of Santa Ana. "You have to know what he went through, and you have to put yourself in his place."
According to Parsons' criminal record, he was first arrested in June, 1951, at the age of 17 on suspicion of sexually fondling a boy in an Illinois theater. After moving to California, Parsons pleaded guilty to charges that he molested two 12-year-old boys.
"This boy can become a productive citizen," said jury foreman Gary Garriger. "He needs that chance."