Police at the scene of the 2017 arrest and shooting in Old Town. Courtesy OnScene.TV

A judge sentenced a transient Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for gunning down a man at an Orange County motel while kidnapping his own girlfriend.

Police arrested Luke Theodore Lampers in Old Town, where officers shot him while he fled from them. The kidnapping victim had called her father from another motel, where she said she had escaped, leading police to where he was staying while on the lam.

Lampers, 41, was found guilty in 2019 of first-degree murder. Jurors also found true a special-circumstance allegation of killing during a kidnapping.

His sentencing was delayed due to hiring a new attorney and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Patrick Donahue tacked on an additional sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Lampers was convicted of killing Douglas Navarro, 49, on Jan. 11, 2017, at the Crystal Inn in Anaheim.

His attorney at trial, Carlo Spiga, argued that Senior Deputy District Attorney Eric Scarbrough failed to prove that Lampers kidnapped Brianna Deese, whom he said was an addict who “runs to who has drugs” and had previously stayed with the defendant at the motel for eight days.

He suggested that prosecutors “made the choice how they charged this case” so the defense could not argue for a lesser-degree of murder or manslaughter or that the shooting was done in self-defense.

Spiga also pointed out that Navarro had a power drill tucked under his shirt when he confronted Lampers before the shooting.

A day before Navarro’s killing, Lampers was seen by guests at the motel asking for Deese because he “needed to take her to rehab,” according to testimony. The next day, Lampers was seen kicking in the door to Navarro’s motel room, where Deese, 23 at the time, was staying, and the defendant dragged her out, police testified.

Later, as a motel employee was trying to close the broken door with Navarro’s help, a tearful Deese was allowed in so that she could get her belongings.

Lampers argued with Navarro, who left, returned a short time later, and continued the argument. Lampers then shot the victim in the chest, according to testimony from police at the scene.

As Lampers dragged Deese away from the scene, witnesses heard him tell her, “You made me murder someone,” they said.

– City News Service