Rachael Mullenix sobbed violently Thursday as a jury found her guilty of helping arrange the brutal fatal stabbing of her mother whose body was found dumped in Newport Harbor.
Mullenix’s first question after hearing the verdict was “How could this be?” followed by “How is my family?” her attorney David Cohn said.
Mullenix was accused of getting former boyfriend Ian Allen to help her murder her mother, Barbara Mullenix, in her Huntington Beach condo in 2006.
Jurors found Mullenix, 19, guilty of first-degree murder on the fourth day of deliberation. They did not give her a sentence enhancement for personal use of a deadly weapon, which means they didn’t see proof she actually stabbed her mother. Mullenix entered the courtroom sobbing, red-eyed and dressed in black, with her hair in braids. When the verdict was announced, she wailed convulsively.
“It’s not right,” the teen’s grandmother, who declined to give her name, said through tears as the verdict was read. Family members fled the room, and the building, as soon as the proceedings ended.
The verdict ended a dramatic trial that lasted weeks.
Mullenix had testified that she loved her mother as her “best friend,” but planned to run away from an unstable household with Allen after Barbara Mullenix threatened to keep them apart. As she told it, Allen got into an argument with the mother the night they tried to leave, but the teen was shocked to see him stabbing her mother violently. When it was all over, Mullenix said during the trial, she helped him clean up and dump the body near the Newport Harbor Yacht Club because she was “in shock.”
But prosecutor Sonia Balleste called her a manipulator who used emotional tricks to enlist Allen to help her stab Barbara Mullenix more than 50 times with multiple knives, including once in the eye with a butter knife.
“I think she hates her mother,” Balleste said to reporters after the trial. “In my opinion, Rachael Mullenix is a sociopath. She manipulates individuals.”
Balleste said she thought Mullenix had plunged the butter knife into her mother’s eye herself, but said jurors were right not to give her the sentence enhancement for actually using the murder weapons.
“If she holds her down as Ian Allen stabs her, there’s no need for personal use of the weapon,” she said. “If she hands Ian Allen the knife, there’s no need for personal use of the weapon. There were multiple theories the jury had to consider.”
But Mullenix’s lawyer, David Cohn, said he still believed his client’s story.
“The evidence in this trial from the defense perspective is everything I know about this case,” he said. “The closing argument I made was sincere.”
He said he didn’t know about any appeals Mullenix might make, as he wasn’t an appeals lawyer and wouldn’t be handling them.
Balleste said she thought Mullenix’s appearance at the sentencing was one last bit of manipulation.
“I thought the pigtails were true Rachael to the end, trying to tell everyone, ‘You’re going to convict a little girl,’” she said.
Mullenix will be sentenced on Sept. 5; her conviction carries a sentence of 25 years to life.
Allen, 23, is scheduled for a trial in August, also to be prosecuted by Balleste.