Richard Ramirez, the "Night Stalker" who butchered or raped more than a dozen people in an outburst of violence that terrorized Southern California in 1985, was sentenced to death in the gas chamber today.
Superior Court Judge Michael A. Tynan pronounced the sentence shortly after 11 a.m. It carries an automatic appeal.
Before he was sentenced, the 29-year-old Texas killer, wearing dark glasses, uttered a rambling, nearly inaudible statement in court that ended with the words: "Lucifer dwells within us all."
"You don't understand . . . and you are not expected to, you are not capable of it," he was heard to say. "I am beyond your experience. I am beyond doing evil. Legions of the night, night breed. Repeat not the errors of the Night Stalker and show no mercy. I will be avenged."
Ramirez, clad in jailhouse blues and wearing dark sunglasses, rocked back and forth and turned to grin at the audience throughout the hourlong sentencing hearing, during which several relatives of victims addressed the court.
One of those was Colleen Nelson, the granddaughter of murder victim Joyce Nelson.
"For every person he killed, he has put so many others in so much pain," Nelson said. "He has forfeited his right to live for what he did to my grandmother and all those other innocent people."
Ramirez, who entered unlocked houses late at night to murder people in their beds and beat others and demand money, was convicted by a Superior Court jury on Sept. 20 of 13 murders and 30 other felonies, including rape, burglary and sodomy.
He often left satanic symbols scrawled at the scenes of his crimes and in at least one instance, gouged out the eyes of a victim. During his preliminary hearing, he appeared in court one day with a pentagram drawn on the palm of his hand and flashed it to reporters as he said: "Hail, Satan!"
A dozen people survived the attacks, and some testified at the 16-month trial.
The same jury recommended Oct. 4 that he be sentenced to death. Jurors, some of whom said they felt that the defendant tried to intimidate them during the trial by sneering and glaring at them, returned death penalty recommendations on each of 19 special circumstance counts.
A snarling, gravelly voiced Ramirez had earlier sneered at the possibility of being sentenced to death.
"Big deal, death comes with the territory," he told reporters after last month's sentencing recommendation. "See you in Disneyland."
After his September conviction, Ramirez flashed a two-fingered "devil sign" at photographers and muttered one word: "Evil."