A man who killed his 71-year-old father in the victim’s Rancho Santa Fe home five years ago was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder.
Leighton Dorey IV, 44, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole after a San Diego jury found him guilty Wednesday of murder, plus a special circumstance allegation of torture.
The trial was the second Dorey has had regarding the May 30, 2017, killing of Leighton Dorey III, though this time Dorey represented himself. His first trial held in Vista three years ago resulted in a hung jury that voted 11-1 in favor of convicting him.
Prosecutors alleged that after spending the prior four years living in France, the younger Dorey showed up at his father’s La Brisa home, then killed him because of a perceived lack of financial support.
The elder Dorey was beaten and strangled, according to the prosecution, which alleged his injuries included fractures to his spine, neck and ribs, as well as a broken nose, broken jaw, skin torn from his hands and many of his teeth strewn about his body from the force of the beating.
Dorey testified on his own behalf and told jurors he killed his father in self-defense after the victim tried to strangle him with a belt. During an ensuing struggle, he claimed he tried to subdue his father by putting him in a sleeper hold and inadvertently took his life.
He then told jurors that in a panic, he attempted to stage the scene first as a suicide. When those efforts failed, he said he attempted to make it look as though his father had been killed by an accidental fall down a stairway at the home.
Though he described his treatment of his father’s body as “horrific” and “repulsive,” he said, “I do think what I did was wrong. But it’s not murder.”
While on the stand, Dorey extensively detailed his financial troubles, his issues finding consistent work while living overseas, his father’s unsupportive attitude toward his endeavors to develop “money-multiplier” software, and his belief that his father tried to poison him in 2013.
Dorey testified that he tried to broach the poisoning subject with his father on May 30, but the elder Dorey would have none of it. As Dorey put it, his father was “in no way empathetic or interested in trying to resolve whatever my concerns were.”
He testified that after the unsuccessful attempt to discuss the poisoning, his father gestured toward a painting of his son and said, “That’s the L.B. I prefer to remember,” referring to the nickname family members used to refer to Dorey.
Dorey said he then bent down to tie one of his shoelaces that had come undone, at which point his father screamed, “Now you’re dead,” threw his belt around his son’s neck and began choking him.
After leaving the home, Dorey said he drove to a police station in Murrieta and was prepared to turn himself in, but said, “I couldn’t make myself do it” and left to have “one more day of freedom.”
Law enforcement tracked him down in the Riverside County mountain community of Idyllwild one day later and arrested him.