Two ex-cons were convicted Friday of first-degree murder in the death of a 20-year-old transient mother whose bullet-riddled body was dumped near the Lawrence Welk Resort in Escondido in 2012.
Jeffrey Steven McCreary, 44, and Destin Lee Withers, 38, will be sentenced Nov. 18.
McCreary, the gunman, has a criminal history that includes armed robberies, weapon and drug possessions and buying stolen goods. He faces 100 years to life in prison.
Withers, whose criminal past includes stealing cars, faces 28 years to life behind bars in the death of Denise Rodriguez. Her remains were found Feb. 1, 2012.
Deputy District Attorney Jodi Breton told the jury in her opening statement that Rodriguez — a drug addict with no permanent residence — told people two days before she was killed that a man she met at an apartment complex raped her and gave her bad drugs.
Withers tried to help find the man who supposedly hurt Rodriguez, but when he found out the story wasn’t true, he and McCreary picked her up at a motel, Breton said.
A woman who’d been staying at Withers’ home said she overheard him talking about cleaning up blood, and another witness saw Withers burning items in Valley Center, the prosecutor said.
Boot imprints located near Rodriguez’s body were similar to boots worn by McCreary, according to Breton, who said that the victim’s blood was found in Withers’ Mercedes-Benz and a bullet hole was located in the back seat.
A fellow inmate said Withers told him that Rodriguez was trying to get out of the car when she was shot, the prosecutor told the jury. She said two inmates told investigators that Withers asked them not to disclose what he told them.
Withers’ attorney, Jeff Reichert, told the jury that Withers didn’t shoot the victim and had no idea McCreary was going to shoot her four times.
After the shooting, Withers panicked and told McCreary, “You did this. You get rid of the body,” according to Reichert.
Rodriguez’s daughter was eight or nine months old when her mother was killed.
— City News Service