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Accomplice in Race Killing Is Sentenced

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 19-year-old man who once wrote a high school essay on white power was sentenced Friday to 18 years to life in prison for his role as an accomplice in a racially motivated slaying of an African American.

Robert Dylan Wofford, who was 17 at the time of the Huntington Beach slaying, will serve his time in state prison rather than with the California Youth Authority, Deputy Dist. Atty. Jim Tanizaki said Friday.

Corrections officials determined that Wofford “was too criminally sophisticated and insufficiently motivated” to be sent to the youth authority, Tanizaki said. “Ever since the beginning of this case, he never accepted responsibility or has shown any remorse.”

Wofford had testified that he came to blows with 44-year-old Vernon Flournoy, a refrigerator technician. But Wofford said he did not know that his companion, Jonathan Russell Kinsey, had a gun until Kinsey fired the fatal shots.

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After 2 1/2 days of deliberation in March, a jury found Wofford guilty, since accomplices are legally responsible for a crime if they should have foreseen the consequences of their actions.

Wofford’s attorney, Patrick D. McNeal, could not be reached for comment.

Tanizaki said Wofford, of Laguna Niguel, was sentenced to 15 years to life for second-degree murder and given three additional years for a hate crime enhancement.

Kinsey, 21, of Huntington Beach, pleaded guilty earlier this year to second-degree murder and the commission of a hate crime and was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison.

The two men confronted Flournoy outside a fast-food restaurant on Sept. 15, 1994, and provoked a fight. According to police and the prosecutor, Flournoy--who had three children and two grandsons--pleaded for his life before he was shot.

Kinsey, who bears white supremacist tattoos but has since reportedly disavowed those beliefs, later laughed about the attack, according to an investigator.

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According to a probation report, Wofford described his past associations with skinheads as “a childish grasp for friends.” But the report traced a profile of a troubled boy who had acted on his beliefs and got into increasing trouble with the law.

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Wofford’s early childhood was filled with the monetary rewards of his father’s drug dealing, the report said.

The family had a plush Orange County home, a chalet in Big Bear and three luxury cars. But “it all came to an end after the defendant’s father began using cocaine instead of just selling it,” a probation officer said.

When Wofford was 5, a drug-dealing “collector” came to the family home, tied up his mother and held the whole family at gunpoint for more than eight hours. By age 15, he was said to have attention deficit disorder, the report said. His parents divorced in 1986, and between 1991 and the time of Flournoy’s slaying, Wofford had numerous run-ins with police.

Many of the incidents were not prosecuted by the district attorney’s office, but probation officials say that the clashes with the law became more and more serious.

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In one, Wofford pointed a toy gun at a 16-year-old black teen and the teen’s 7-year-old brother, and shouted racial slurs and obscenities, the report said.

In letters to the court, Flournoy’s family urged a life sentence for Wofford. The victim’s sister-in-law, Patricia Flournoy, wrote about the loss suffered by her entire family.

“My husband, Bruce Flournoy, lost his brother, his best friend, in one of the most tragic ways a person can lose a loved one, by the hands of strangers, two strangers who only saw the color of his skin,” she wrote.


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