Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : 2 Guilty in Slayings of Runaways May Face Death Penalty
Two Antelope Valley men convicted in the stabbing deaths of two teen-age runaways will either be put to death or spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Joseph Tomas Orcasitas, 21, of Littlerock and Jose Angel Orona, 22, of Palmdale were found guilty Tuesday of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the 1992 deaths of David Benjamin Scott of Llano and Daniel Joseph Kufeldt of Palmdale.
Each of the convictions includes the special circumstances of committing murder while lying in wait and of committing multiple murders, allowing prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
The jury, which deliberated for four days before reaching its verdict, will reconvene Aug. 25 in Los Angeles Superior Court to decide if Orcasitas and Orona should receive the death penalty, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Ron L. Smalstig.
The decomposed bodies of David, 14, and Daniel, 15, were discovered in June 22, 1992, in a remote desert area. The teen-agers had been missing for a month.
Orcasitas and Orona killed the youths to prevent them from testifying about the men’s involvement in a burglary and because they believed David had stolen a ring belonging to Orona, Smalstig said.
The men lured the victims from a campground near Big Rock Creek in Angeles National Forest “to a remote area and killed them and left the bodies to rot out in the desert,” he said.
The teen-agers were taken by van to 96th Street East and Avenue V, having been told another burglary was to be committed.
Orona demanded the ring from David and stabbed him when he said he didn’t have it, according to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department report. Orcasitas stabbed Daniel when he tried to intervene and then also stabbed David, the report said.
A third defendant, Durwood (Billy) Bland III, earlier pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and testified against Orcasitas and Orona in the trial. Bland said that he was with the group that traveled from the campground to the desert area, but didn’t participate in the attack.
A fourth man, Brian Peak, pleaded no contest to being an accessory to the boys’ killings for driving Orona, Orcasitas and Bland to the victims’ campsite.