David Alan Weeding, convicted of first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of an East County newspaper reporter and sentenced to life in prison without parole, must remain behind bars for life, a state appeal court in San Diego ruled Monday.
Affirming both the murder conviction and the sentence, the 4th District Court of Appeal said there were no legal grounds to Weeding's claims that the judge who presided over the trial in the case made significant errors.
Weeding, now 42, a former auto radiator repairman from Santee, was convicted in the May 20, 1988, slaying of Steve Petix, 31, a reporter for the Daily Californian. Petix was stabbed five times when he came to the aid of his wife, Vickie Petix, while Weeding tried to rape her in the couple's El Cajon apartment.
A San Diego Superior Court jury, which deliberated less than a day after a lengthy trial in November, 1989, also convicted Weeding of attempted rape and burglary.
At the trial, the widow testified that Weeding appeared at her door posing as a repairman and asked to check for plumbing leaks. She said she let him in because there was a leaking pipe in the apartment.
Once inside, Weeding attacked her at knifepoint. During the attack, her husband came home from his job at the El Cajon newspaper. Vickie Petix said she saw Weeding lunge toward her husband as she fled the apartment.
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty, but the jury recommended a sentence of life in prison without parole. In January, 1990, Judge Wayne L. Peterson sentenced Weeding to life without parole.
On appeal, Weeding contended that Peterson made mistakes at the trial in giving the jury instructions on several technical, complex points of law. But appeal Judge Patricia Benke said Weeding's claims had no merit, adding that the killings showed Weeding had "a reckless indifference to human life."
Judges Don R. Work and Gilbert Nares joined the opinion.