Convicted serial killer Randy Steven Kraft was sentenced to death Wednesday for murdering 16 young men in a 12-year rampage of sexual violence in Orange County.
Kraft, 44, insisted he was innocent after Orange County Superior Court Judge Donald A. McCartin ordered him put to death in the gas chamber, but relatives of victims cried and hugged each other.
“Burn in hell, Kraft!” shouted Darwin Hall, the father of a 22-year-old murder victim, as Kraft was led from court in Santa Ana.
“If anyone ever deserved the death penalty, he’s got it coming,” the judge said, recounting the grisly savagery of one slaying which included torture by cigarette lighter, castration and mutilation.
“I sat here for a year and I didn’t see any remorse, feelings or regret,” McCartin said, calling the crimes “just hard for me to comprehend.”
Kraft, who played with a pen, yawned, laughed and chatted with his lawyer during the proceeding, briefly addressed the court after sentencing.
“I have not murdered anyone, and I believe a reasonable review of the record will show that,” said Kraft, a Long Beach computer consultant.
McCartin gave the death sentence for 11 of the murders and consecutive life prison terms for the other five. The judge said he did so to keep Kraft in custody in the event the death sentences were somehow overturned.
A death sentence is automatically appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Kraft was also sentenced to 10 years in prison for three counts of sodomy, four counts of mayhem and three counts of great bodily injury.
A jury convicted Kraft last May 12 after a 10 1/2-month trial and recommended the death penalty in August.
The murders Kraft was convicted of committing occurred between 1972 and 1983. Prosecutors said that Kraft picked up hitchhikers, gave them drugs and alcohol, sexually tortured or mutilated them and then strangled them.
Prosecutors say Kraft may be the worst serial killer in the nation’s history. They have accused him in court papers of 45 murders, including six in Oregon and two in Michigan. But they say his victims could number more than 65, based on a “death list” found in Kraft’s car.
McCartin told Kraft he had received letters from parents whose children were missing and wanted to know if there was some way the list could divulge their fate.
Saying that he was addressing Kraft as an individual and not as a judge, McCartin said that if his death sentence appeals fail “you might give some thought in your waning moments to helping those people out.”