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Jury Urges Death Penalty in ’96 Torture-Slaying of Redondo Beach Man

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Deliberating just 3 1/2 hours, a jury said Monday that Spencer Brasure should be executed for torturing a 20-year-old Redondo Beach man and burning him alive in the Ventura County back country two years ago.

Brasure, 28, a heavyset Hawthorne resident with thin dark hair, sat in his chair and stared straight ahead as the verdict was announced before a crowd of spectators in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge James P. Cloninger.

After the jury of eight men and four women was excused, Brasure turned to his two court-appointed attorneys and smiled. He calmly strode out of court to a holding cell with a yellow note pad tucked under his arm.

Outside the courtroom, defense attorneys Charles Cassy and Steve Powell declined to comment on the verdict. Prosecutors Mark Pachowicz and Robert Calvert called it the right decision given the nature of the case.

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“This is the appropriate verdict considering this is a defendant that would--and did--strap the victim to an electric chair,” Pachowicz said. “I think they had an awful lot of evidence over a long period of time.”

Brasure was found guilty of first-degree murder, torture, kidnapping and related charges two weeks ago after a lengthy trial in which witnesses described the gruesome torture of Anthony Guest.

In chilling testimony, friends of the defendant told the jury how Brasure and co-defendant Billy Davis tied Guest to a metal chair and “zapped” him with a makeshift electric prod that left red burns all over Guest’s body.

Brasure and his accomplice kidnapped Guest on Sept. 6, 1996, at the request of the victim’s former girlfriend, Sandra Johnson. She told the jury that she was angry at Guest and wanted Brasure and Davis to rough him up a little.

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But what happened in the so-called “red room” of Davis’ Hawthorne home went far beyond Johnson’s expectations, she said.

In addition to electric shock, the pair duct-taped Guest’s mouth and bound his hands with heavy plastic trash ties, Johnson said. She said Brasure hit Guest in the head and testified that she could hear him moan in pain though he could not speak.

Other witnesses who walked in during the torture scene said Brasure broke glass inside Guest’s mouth, put a wolf-like mask on his face and stapled wood to his ears.

After hours of torture, prosecutors said, Brasure and Davis drove Guest to a remote campground near Gorman in northern Ventura County and burned him to death under a juniper tree.

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After the men were arrested, Davis pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He is expected to stand trial later this year. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty against him.

In Brasure’s case, authorities say he threatened to kill several witnesses while awaiting trial in the Ventura County Jail and devised a so-called “rat list” of those subpoenaed to testify against him.

After a three-week trial, a jury convicted Brasure on charges of witness intimidation in addition to first-degree murder. That conviction, along with the jury finding that the murder occurred by torture and during a kidnapping, prompted a penalty phase of the trial.

During those proceedings last week, witnesses told the jury of prior acts of violence committed by Brasure. The defendant’s younger sister testified that her brother sexually assaulted her repeatedly as a child, and a former Hawthorne resident said Brasure threatened him on three separate occasions.

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Cloninger must now decide whether to impose the death penalty or sentence Brasure to life in prison without the possibility of parole. A sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 24.


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