S.D. Jury Says Lucas Should Die for Killings

Times Staff Writer

David Allen Lucas, convicted of the throat-slashing murders of three people and the attempted murder of another after one of the longest trials in San Diego history, should die in the gas chamber, a jury recommended Wednesday.

Lucas, 34, a carpet cleaner from Spring Valley, showed no emotion as the jury delivered its recommendation, reached after seven days of deliberation, to San Diego Superior Court Judge Laura Palmer Hammes.

His mother, Patricia Katzenmaier, sobbed and said, “I love you, David,” then bolted out the door and down the hallway outside Hammes’ courtroom. Katzenmaier had cried softly and shook her head in disbelief as Hammes polled the jury--twice--to make certain that the verdict was unanimous.


Hammes will formally sentence Lucas on Sept. 19.

“I’m glad the jury came in with the verdict it did,” said Michael Jacobs, whose wife and 3-year-old son were killed in 1979 in their Normal Heights home.

“I saw no other verdict,” Jacobs said. “I have no compassion for David Lucas, as he had none for my wife and child. . . .

“If (the verdict) is carried out, and it’s a long process, I’m sure (Lucas) won’t suffer as much as I’ve suffered.”

‘Proper Penalty’

Deputy Dist. Atty. Daniel T. Williams, who led the prosecution, said he was “gratified the jury chose the penalty it did.” Jurors could choose only death or life in prison without parole, and Williams said the jury chose the “proper penalty.”

Williams’ assistant, George W. Clarke, said, “Justice was done today. This man has murdered many people and I think this was the appropriate penalty.”

Defense attorneys Alex Landon and Steven E. Feldman each said they were “disappointed.”

Lucas, who conferred briefly with his lawyers after the verdict, was “reflective on what has happened,” Landon said. “It’s not a very pleasant situation to be in.”

Landon and Feldman said they will ask at the Sept. 19 hearing for a new trial, intending to challenge various rulings Hammes made as well as what Feldman called “other constitutional issues.” They did not elaborate.

Marshals hustled jurors out a side door of the downtown courthouse and into a van about 20 minutes after the panel announced its verdict. Each juror declined comment.

The jury convicted Lucas of first-degree murder in the May 4, 1979, killings of Suzanne Jacobs, 31, her son, Colin, 3, and the Nov. 20, 1984, death of University of San Diego student Anne Catherine Swanke, 22.

Jacobs and her son were found in their Normal Heights home with their throats slashed.

Swanke’s throat also was slashed. Her body was found on a remote hillside in Spring Valley.

Jurors also convicted Lucas of the attempted murder of Jody Santiago-Robertson, 34, of Seattle. She survived a June, 1984, attack in which she was choked and her throat was slashed.

Lucas also was convicted of kidnaping Robertson, who testified for the prosecution at the trial, and of kidnaping Swanke.

Lucas was acquitted in the death of Gayle Roberta Garcia, 29, a Point Loma realtor who was found with her throat slashed in a vacant Spring Valley house on Dec. 8, 1981.

Jurors were unable to convict Lucas in the deaths of Rhonda Strang, 24, and Amber Fisher, 3, both of Lakeside. Strang was baby-sitting the child when their throats were slashed Oct. 23, 1984. The jury foreman told Hammes that, after taking four or five votes, the jury was deadlocked, 11-1, for conviction.

Lucas was arrested in December, 1984.

Jury selection began in August. The panel was not finally in place until Jan. 3, when the trial began. It ran for 56 days.

The jury’s deliberations--both in June when it debated conviction and in recent weeks when first the original and then a newly constituted panel considered Lucas’ penalty--also were marked by length. They also were accompanied by heightened secrecy and unusual events.

After eight days of deliberations, the jury convicted Lucas on June 21 of the three murder charges, one charge of attempted murder and two related charges of kidnaping.

The jury began deliberating Lucas’ sentence July 17. The next day, jurors sent Hammes a note saying they were deadlocked. That note was read in open court, and Hammes told jurors to resume deliberations, which they did the next day, July 19.

A week ago, July 24, after five days of deliberations, Hammes removed one of the jurors from the panel for “legal cause.” She provided no further explanation.

The judge replaced the juror with an alternate, a woman, and told the jury to begin deliberations all over again, which it did later that day.

The panel had deliberated every day since, except for one when a juror called in sick.

In all, the juries spent 12 days deciding Lucas’ penalty.

The judge, who has refused to reveal the jurors’ names, ruled July 24 that the press did not have a right to see four other notes the jury wrote to her and the transcripts of hearings she held with the lawyers about those notes.

The possibility that jurors might learn through newspapers or television about jury instructions suggested by the lawyers but not used outweighed the public interest in knowing the contents of the notes and hearings, Hammes said in a written opinion.

The Copley Press, which publishes the San Diego Union and the Tribune, immediately took that ruling to the 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego. But the court denied the appeal in a two-page order filed Wednesday.

Justices Charles W. Froehlich Jr., Patricia D. Benke and Gilbert Nares felt that the closed sessions Hammes held with the lawyers “are not the type which are historically open to the public,” so Hammes was right to preclude the press and public, Froehlich said for the panel.