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Jury Hears Ford’s Taped Confession

Times Staff Writer

The night Wayne Adam Ford confessed to four grisly killings, he struggled to remember his own address and phone number, and fumbled through the simple task of removing his socks and combat boots.

In a November 1998 videotape of Ford’s interview with detectives, which defense lawyers played for jurors Thursday in their closing arguments of his serial murder trial, Ford slumped against a padded wall of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department after turning himself in.

Disheveled in a gray sweatshirt and dirty bluejeans, he told officers that he had sought help for the problems in “my head,” but nothing worked.

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“I didn’t want to hurt people,” he sobbed as an officer patted his knee and told him authorities weren’t going to kill him as Ford feared. “I hurt people. That’s why you guys just have to keep me.”

The tape offered a dramatic end to Ford’s three-month murder trial in San Bernardino County Superior Court, where a jury of seven women and five men is scheduled to begin deliberations on the four counts of first-degree murder filed against the long-haul trucker from Arcata, Calif.

Ford, 44, is accused of killing four women whose nude bodies were found -- some strangled, others dismembered -- in four California counties.

Deputy Dist. Atty. J. David Mazurek told jurors that Ford was a sadistic killer who prowled the roadways for vulnerable women he could subject to his twisted sexual fantasies as he beat and raped them before killing them for pleasure. Mazurek is seeking first-degree murder convictions in all four cases and to send Ford to death row.

But Ford’s public defender, Joseph D. Canty Jr., asked jurors to look at the teary man in the video and decide whether he was the “monster” without a conscience whom prosecutors described.

Canty said they should consider whether mental disorders could have prevented Ford from forming an intent to kill the four women, which could be critical in determining first-degree murder.

Steering the jury toward a conviction on a lesser charge of second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter would make Ford ineligible for the death penalty.

Canty argued that Ford was mired in depression, angry at his former wife -- who he claimed was preventing him from seeing his young son -- and struggling with other psychological problems including borderline personality disorder.

Those pressures, Canty said, clouded Ford’s thoughts to the point where he may not have realized the consequences of his favored sexual ritual, which included binding the women and strangling them during sex, which he said was to enhance their pleasure.

Canty said Ford’s videotaped confession showed that he was aware that he could not control his impulses.

“We know that a person who dismembers a human being is severely disturbed,” Canty said in his closing argument -- acknowledging that the jury must have been horrified by Ford’s killings. “Someone who turns himself in and wishes to stop killing must have suffered the same horror himself. He must have had difficulty imagining that he could do these things.

“He wants to stop.... That’s what gets him into that jail,” Canty said.

The body of Ford’s first victim was so mutilated that she has not been identified and is known as Humboldt County Jane Doe.

Ford is also charged in the deaths of prostitutes Patricia Ann Tamez, 29, of Hesperia; Tina Renee Gibbs, 26, of Las Vegas; and Lanett Deyon White, 25, of Fontana.

The jury will begin deliberations Monday.


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