Two Burbank men were sentenced to prison Monday for the 2013 beating death of a Glendale resident whose body was found in a shallow grave in the Angeles National Forest.
Erik Pearson, 26, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, while Donald Thurman, 30, will spend life behind bars without parole for the death of 25-year-old Nicholas Carter. Pearson had pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in May, while Thurman was convicted by a jury for the crime late last month.
According to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, the murder was committed for financial gain.
Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman with the district attorney’s office, said Thurman and Pearson invited Cater to go out to eat on Jan. 7, 2013. He also said Carter and Thurman had lived together for a short time.
“At some point, they drove him to the street where [Carter and Thurman] used to live and killed him with a baseball bat,” Santiago said. “They then took him to the [Angeles National Forest], where they had previously dug a hole.”
According to court records, Pearson bludgeoned Carter with the bat at the urging of Thurman. Pearson testified he was pressured by Thurman, who he said claimed to be an undercover California Highway Patrol officer.
Pearson said Thurman threatened to kidnap and kill his girlfriend if he didn’t murder Carter.
According to Santiago, witnesses have said Thurman would typically impersonate a police officer in order to get people to do things against their will.
After burying Carter and taking his personal items, the pair used his credit and bank cards to withdraw $5,000 in cash from his account and make $10,000 in charges. Thurman even impersonated Carter when credit card companies called about the unusual activity, Santiago said.
Carter’s body was discovered 12 days later in a shallow grave off of Big Tujunga Canyon Road.
A hiker had reported seeing pools of blood in the area on Jan. 8, but investigators were initially unable to find a body. The grave was ultimately found several hundred yards away from the initial site.
Thurman was charged with the murder later that month, having already been in custody for reportedly embezzling nearly $30,000 from the Boy Scouts of Verdugo Hills Council in 2011. Pearson was arrested the following month.