A Huntington Beach woman who, with help from her boyfriend, killed her mother two years ago and dumped the body into Newport Harbor before running away with him, is headed to prison on a first-degree murder conviction, but still maintains she didn’t commit the crime.
Rachael Mullenix, 19, was convicted in July of taking part in her mother’s slaying. Mullenix insisted she was innocent Friday as a judge sentenced her to a maximum of 25 years to life in prison.
Her mother, Barbara Mullenix, was found wrapped in a bloody blanket with a butter knife stuck in her eye and floating in Newport Harbor on Sept. 13, 2006. She had been stabbed more than 50 times by at least two different knives, officials said.
“I’ll never take responsibility for it. Every day without her is a struggle. I can’t believe this is happening to me. Everyone was always against my mom; I was always there to protect her,” she told the judge. “How can you do that to your own mother? I couldn’t; there’s no way I could. She was my life. If I supposedly did this, my family would be the first to know.”
Mullenix’s father, Bruce Mullenix, continued to fight for his daughter, as he did while testifying in her trial.
“I know her better than anybody on this planet. I know in my heart she didn’t do this,” he said. “In this world, sometimes just because you’re convicted of something doesn’t mean you did it.”
Mullenix’s then-boyfriend, Ian Allen, 23, was convicted for his role in the killing last month. The pair fingered the other during their separate trials, each arguing that the other killed Barbara while they only helped clean up.
Character was a central theme during Friday’s sentencing. Rachael Mullenix’s character, and that of her mother — who was divorced and whom defense attorneys portrayed as an abusive alcoholic — were brought up periodically during victim impact statements.
Before Judge David Thompson sentenced Mullenix, he pointed out that she did not appear to be remorseful.
She countered during her statement that jail, and before that a fear of getting hurt, trained her to not show emotions. But she did softly cry as her father defended her before Mullenix faced the judge.
“Her mother had problems. No one knows how bad it was other than Rachael and myself,” Bruce Mullenix said of his ex-wife. “I loved Barbara. I married her, I had a daughter with her, but yeah, she was that bad.”
No friends or family were there to speak on Barbara’s behalf, so a victim’s advocate from the district attorney’s office did.
“Barbara had some challenging times in her life. Somewhere along the way she developed an alcohol problem ... but not once were her children ever taken from her. Not even an investigation into her parenting skills, yet she has been portrayed by her ex-husband and her daughter as some out-of-control drunken abuser,” Angela Tietzer said.
“Barbara Mullenix may have been far from perfect, but there is nothing that can be said about her faults that would remotely begin to justify this horrific crime.”
Thompson had rejected a motion by defense attorneys earlier in the afternoon for a new trial. Defense attorney David Cohn said many of prosecutor Sonia Balleste’s statements and the evidence she presented despite the court’s orders to not use them prejudiced the jury enough to warrant a new trial. Balleste addressed those concerns before Mullenix was sentenced.
“This is not about what was said or not said by me. This is about the evidence presented to a fair and impartial jury in our community,” she said. “They’ve spoken. That verdict, by those 12 people, is what convicted this defendant. Twenty-five-to-life is the appropriate sentence.”
Allen is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 14.
JOSEPH SERNA may be reached at (714) 966-4619 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.