Jury Convicts 2 Accused in Clairemont Triple Murder

In a case that could lead to the death penalty for one of the defendants, two men were convicted Friday in the brutal drug-related slayings of three people whose bludgeoned bodies were discovered in separate locations in Clairemont in August, 1989.

Christopher Clark Box, 21, and Manuel Flores Jr., 18, were each found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder, as well as attempted murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, residential robbery and residential burglary.

The jury found to be true seven special circumstances against Box, including multiple murders, which means Box will be sentenced either to die in the gas chamber or to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The penalty phase of the trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday.


Prosecutors did not seek special circumstances against Flores because he was a juvenile at the time of the crimes. However, Flores is facing up to four consecutive life-in-prison terms when he is sentenced Jan. 18.

The seven-woman, five-man jury deliberated for about 2 1/2 days before announcing its verdict, which rejected Box’s claim of self-defense and Flores’ plea that he acted under orders from Box.

Box and Flores were convicted of killing 20-year-old April Gilhousen and stealing 1 pound of marijuana and more than $2,000 in cash from her Clairemont Mesa Boulevard house on Aug. 9, 1989.

The pair were also convicted of the murders of Gilhousen’s 3-year-old son, Bryan Gilhousen, and a roommate, 29-year-old Keven Morton Chandler.

All three victims died as a result of being bludgeoned with a baseball bat. During the trial, Flores testified that he watched Box smash Chandler’s head, and then he followed Box’s order to slit the victim’s throat.

Flores also testified that he obeyed Box’s command to plunge a kitchen knife into the chest of April Gilhousen.