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Carson Killer Gets Maximum Prison Term

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Carson resident Anthony Herrera was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole Friday for the savage knife slaying and attempted rape last year of his pregnant next-door neighbor.

Lisa Marie Gonzales, 20, died April 24, 1989, after being stabbed and slashed 42 times in her home. In pronouncing the sentence, Compton Superior Court Judge Madge S. Watai called the killing “a most vicious crime displaying a high degree of cruelty, viciousness and callousness.”

Herrera, 30, convicted of murdering both Gonzales and her fetus during an attempted rape, nodded to his weeping family, but he did not comment as a bailiff led him away after receiving the maximum sentence. “They’re full of lies,” one of Herrera’s relatives shouted angrily.

Though Herrera could have faced execution for first-degree murder with the special circumstance of attempted rape, the district attorney’s office decided before the trial not to seek the death penalty because Herrera had been under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the crime.

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In an address to the judge, Gonzales’ mother, Joyce Dickman, said: “What he did was so inhumane and unjust that no word in the English language can describe it. . . . I would like Mr. Herrera to spend the rest of his life in a 6-by-8 cell. . . . I would like him to have a Bible to read and nothing else.”

After the sentencing, Dickman looked toward the ceiling and whispered, “Thank you, God.”

She said in an interview that she could never put the case behind her, but said she was thankful for the “20 years, seven months and three days” she had with her daughter.

Attorney Michael Norris, hired by Herrera’s family after the May 30 guilty verdicts were handed down, argued Friday for a new trial because of a less-than-aggressive defense by Deputy Public Defender Ary DeGroot. The judge rejected the motion, and Norris said the case would be appealed.

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Deputy Dist. Atty. Pam Frohreich, who tried the case, called Herrera “a very dangerous human being” with no indication of remorse for the victim.

Frohreich had argued during the trial that Herrera killed Gonzales because she rebuffed his advances.

On the night of the murder, Herrera arrived at his house in the 21500 block of Water Street after hours of softball and drinking. The prosecution said that Gonzalez, who was at home alone while her fiance was away, let Herrera into the house for a friendly visit and that he became violent after she rejected him.

Gonzales, a former model, was stabbed in the face more than 30 times and hit on the head. She was killed by slashes across her throat, according to testimony.

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The prosecutor said teeth marks matching Herrera’s were found on Gonzales’ breast, and investigators testified that footprints in Gonzales’ blood were made by tennis shoes similar to the ones Herrera wore. No other footprints were found.

The defense argued that although Herrera had gone to Gonzales’ house, he went only after his mother told him that she had heard fighting next door. Herrera testified that he discovered the body but did not call police because he had been smoking crack cocaine and feared arrest.


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