A Huntington Beach man convicted of killing his girlfriend with a hammer and butcher knife was ordered Tuesday to pay more than $200,000 to her parents.
Peter and Mary Scherer, who had sued Dennis DeVinny for wrongful death, may not be receiving the money any time soon. But they are satisfied that they received some measure of justice with the judge’s ruling, their attorney said.
“He is probably never going to be able to pay it, but I think the concept of a convicted criminal compensating the victim as well as serving time in prison is appropriate,” attorney Alexander Mazzia Jr. said.
DeVinny, a former chemical engineer, pleaded guilty to killing Helen Scherer on May 4, 1991. He is serving 16 years to life in state prison for second-degree murder.
Authorities believe Helen Scherer, a 36-year-old personnel analyst, was asleep when DeVinny bludgeoned her with a hammer and repeatedly stabbed her with a butcher knife in the Huntington Beach condominium they shared. At the time of the killing, police said DeVinny, then 32, apparently tried to stab himself after he dialed 911 and told police that he had murdered his girlfriend.
The two had been going out for about 2 1/2 years and had planned to wed in Las Vegas that weekend, but she had called off the marriage, her family contended.
DeVinny, denying responsibility for the slaying, represented himself in the civil trial after Superior Court Judge Jack K. Mandel ruled the state was not responsible for paying his legal counsel or fees for a jury trial, Mazzia said.