Parents Shot in Scheme to Get Drug Money, Son Says
An Anaheim teen-ager charged with killing his father and seriously wounding his mother pleaded for forgiveness Saturday and said the incident occurred after a daylong drug binge during which he plotted to steal his parents’ jewelry and exchange it for more drugs.
In a 30-minute interview in the visitors section of the Orange County Jail, David John Terry described the events that he said led to the shooting of his parents in their north Anaheim home Monday night.
He begged for understanding and said that on the night of the shootings, he was “flying high” from drugs that included marijuana, cocaine and LSD.
“I love my parents very much,” he said. “I didn’t want anything to happen to them. I want her (his mother) to know that this was a terrible mistake, and I am sorry it happened this way.”
Terry, 18, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder in the death of Owen Lloyd Terry, 56, an accountant, and the wounding of Pauline Sharon Terry, 51, an instructional aide at Riverdale Elementary School in Anaheim.
Police said the couple were gunned down in their home about 8 p.m. by an intruder. Pauline Terry survived several gunshot wounds to the torso and was in stable condition Saturday at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana.
An acquaintance of the teen-ager, Richard Lawrence Rodriguez, 20, also pleaded not guilty to murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and burglary. Anaheim police have said that David Terry apparently was not in the house when his parents were shot, but that he planned the robbery with Rodriguez.
Terry said he did not shoot his mother or father, but that he did conspire with Rodriguez to rob them of jewelry and sell the items in order to obtain more drugs. He also said he took his father’s .45-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver from the house and gave it to Rodriguez, who was to use it in the robbery.
Rodriguez declined to be interviewed by The Times.
In a sometimes emotional recounting of the day of the shooting, Terry said he spent the afternoon riding in his red Toyota truck with a friend, visiting video arcade galleries and taking drugs. He said he smoked marijuana, inhaled “a large line of cocaine” and took what he called “micro-dot acid,” a form of the hallucinogen LSD.
“That night I was really flying,” he recalled. “When I’m high I don’t remember anything, but when I come down I remember what happened.”
He said he had been using drugs on a regular basis since he was 13, and had smoked marijuana daily for the week preceding the shooting. He said his parents knew of his drug use and often counseled him to seek professional help in kicking the habit.
On Monday, around sunset, he said, he ran out of drugs and money and went to the Orange Mall to find drugs. There, he said, he met Rodriguez, whom he described as a casual acquaintance.
“We met a couple of weeks ago,” the teen-ager said. “I wouldn’t consider him a friend. He called me a couple of times. I had seen him.”
Terry said he asked Rodriguez where he could get marijuana or possibly other drugs, and it was then that the idea of robbing his own parents was first mentioned.
“I asked him if he could get me some (drugs) because I didn’t have any money,” Terry said. “He said, ‘Your parents are rich, aren’t they?’ I said, ‘What would you need?’ He said he had someone who could give me drugs for jewelry. He wanted some gold for some reason, and he said he needed a gun.”
The youth said he told Rodriguez that his parents kept jewelry in the house.
“I said most was in a safe deposit box but some was in the house. Not a lot. I told him (it was) probably in one of the back bedrooms. I had seen my dad give my mom jewelry before.”
Rodriguez, he said, claimed he could sell the jewelry, but that he “needed a gun to go in there and hold them up. He was going to sell the gun to a friend later.”
At 7:30 p.m., Terry said, he and Rodriguez drove to the North Sweetwater Street home in his pickup, for which his parents had co-signed a loan 2 months earlier.
As Rodriguez waited in the truck, Terry said, he walked inside, then got his father’s revolver from a dresser and bullets from his own room.
His father had fallen asleep on a recliner in the family room, and his mother was in the kitchen, the youth said.
“I didn’t lock the front door behind me” so Rodriguez could get in, he said. “I went out the garage door because I had a garage door opener.
“I thought it was good that dad was sleeping,” he added. “I thought that if he (Rodriguez) went in quietly and snuck out, he could get in and get what he wanted, and I could get what I wanted.”
He said Rodriguez had told him that if his parents resisted, “he would stick the gun in their face and get out of there.”
He and Rodriguez agreed to meet at a bowling alley in Tustin at 9 p.m., the teen-ager said.
“I was going to drive him down to Costa Mesa, and he was going to unload the stuff, and we were both going to get our way,” he said.
But the meeting never took place, he said. Instead, a friend found him and told him there were police cars in front of his house. When he drove by to take a look after 10 p.m., he was stopped and questioned by police. Terry did not become a suspect in the shootings until the next day, when he was arrested after more questioning.
Police have refused to discuss the case at length, or a motive, but did say jewelry belonging to Terry’s parents was found several blocks from the house. Police also will not say what type of weapon was used or if they have recovered it. Rodriguez was arrested near the house, hiding in bushes, according to police.
Looking back, Terry claimed that Rodriguez mentioned the possibility of his parents dying.
“He said if my parents ended up dead, would I get the inheritance. I said I didn’t know. It crosses my mind now that he maybe wanted to blackmail me out of the inheritance.
“I don’t want my parents’ money,” he said. “I want my dad back, and I want my mom to be OK.”
Terry, an only child, said he had not seen or talked to his mother since the shooting.
“I want to see her,” he said. “Even if they have to handcuff me, I want to see my mom. She’s the only one who can help me now.”
He suggested that to kick the drug habit, perhaps he should be admitted to “a mental hospital to receive the help that I need. Mom is the only one who can help.”
He said he believed the police suspected him because he “didn’t cry at the police station . . . (but) I was tripping. But now, I lay here and cry.”
The youth dropped out of Canyon High School last year as a junior, and left Southern California for a year “to see the country.” He returned, he claimed, when he realized that “I wasn’t going anywhere.”
“I came back,” he said. “They co-signed for the car. I had rent free. I was doing OK. I got along with them pretty good, and my dad told me that if I was ever on drugs, he would get me the help that I need. That night, I was thinking about telling him that I needed help.”
Terry said he had been working at Domino’s Pizza, earning up to $12 an hour, with tips, delivering pizza.
“If I could go back, I’d change it,” he said.