Judge sentences murderer to death


A man who raped and murdered a pregnant woman in her Costa Mesa home 25 years ago was sentenced to death Friday.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco P. Briseno handed down the sentence in the case against Jason Michael Balcom, who strangled and stabbed 22-year-old Malinda Gibbons in the chest on July 18, 1988.

Kent Gibbons found his wife dead in the newlyweds’ apartment, bound and gagged with his neckties. Police said she’d been sexually assaulted.


At the time of the crime, 18-year-old Balcom was living with his mother and aunt in a Costa Mesa motel less than a mile from the Gibbonses’ home. He had been released from juvenile hall weeks before the murder.

Investigators cracked the cold case more than a decade later when DNA evidence linked Balcom, now 43, to the crime.

Balcom’s DNA was entered into a nationwide database in 2004 after a rape conviction in Michigan, where he and his mother had moved after the murder.

Orange County prosecutors extradited Balcom, who was serving a 50-year prison sentence.

In 2012, an Orange County jury convicted Balcom of first-degree murder with sentencing enhancements for murder during commission of sodomy, rape, robbery and burglary, but that jury deadlocked over whether to recommend death.

A second jury recommended the death penalty last year.

— Jeremiah Dobruck

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck