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Man Gets Life Term for Murder

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Anaheim man was sentenced Friday to life in prison without possibility of parole in the murder-for-hire slaying of a retired Mission Viejo stockbroker.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Donald A. McCartin expressed shock at the April, 1989, slaying of David Werner, 72, who was suffocated and stabbed by Charles Clemmons, 21, and another man hired by his own daughter, Deborah Werner.

“It’s scary that someone could do this to someone else,” said McCartin, who said he was shocked by the assailants’ “so what?” attitude.

Defense attorney James G. Merwin said Clemmons is extremely remorseful and that Clemmons is the product of a physically and sexually abusive upbringing.

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Merwin said Clemmons’ childhood led him to believe Deborah Werner’s claims that she wanted her father dead because he abused her. “He wanted to protect Deborah Werner from what he thought was abuse of her,” Merwin said.

Werner stood to collect from a $30,000 life insurance policy on her father. Deputy Dist. Atty. David Brent said he doubts Deborah Werner’s abuse claims. David Werner was near death at the time of his slaying.

“Trying to smother someone while he’s thrashing around and then sticking a knife in his neck shows a pretty depraved character,” McCartin said.

Deborah Werner, 43, hired Clemmons and Miguel Ruiz, 22, of Huntington Beach to commit the slaying. She was to pay them $3,000 but later stopped payment on the check. All three have been convicted of first-degree murder for financial gain. In addition, Deborah Werner’s daughter, Cindy Diebolt, is awaiting sentencing on a lesser charge that involves soliciting people to commit the slayings, Brent said.

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