Jury Recommends Death for Killer of 3 in Clairemont

A jury recommended Tuesday that triple killer Christopher Box be executed in the gas chamber for his role in the August, 1989, slayings of a woman, her 3-year-old son and their roommate in Clairemont.

Box, 21, remained impassive as the judgment was read in San Diego Superior Court, but his parents almost immediately left the courtroom.

The jury’s recommendation, which will be reviewed by Judge J. Perry Langford at Box’s sentencing Jan. 18, came after jurors discussed his fate for about six hours over two days.

The same jury on Dec. 11 convicted Box and co-defendant Manuel Flores Jr., 18, of three counts of first-degree murder in the Aug. 9, 1989, killings of April Gilhousen, 20; her son, Bryan, 3, and Kevin Chandler, 29, in their Clairemont residence.


Flores, who was tried as an adult even though he was 17 at the time of the slayings, is not eligible for the death penalty, the state Supreme Court has ruled.

Flores’ sentencing also is scheduled for Jan. 18. He could receive a maximum term of 77 years to life in state prison, but eventually could be eligible for parole.

The jury found special circumstances in the case: that Box committed multiple murders and that the slayings occurred during a robbery and a burglary.

The jury’s only choices in the penalty phase were execution in the gas chamber or a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Gilhousen was stabbed to death in her home, but the beaten body of her son and Chandler were found in separate locations on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard. Chandler’s throat had been slashed.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Lorraine Rooney said during the penalty phase that the murders were believed linked to the theft of a pound of marijuana and $2,000 from Gilhousen’s residence.

An appeal to the California Supreme Court is automatic in all death-penalty cases. No execution has taken place in the state since 1967.