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Jason Michael Balcom - California Death Row
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    Jason Michael Balcom - California Death Row


    Malinda Gibbons



    Jason Michael Balcom


    March 12, 2009

    Death penalty sought for Balcom


    Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a Michigan convict who they say has been linked to the rape and murder of a pregnant Costa Mesa woman in 1988 through DNA evidence.

    Jason Balcom, 38, was serving a 30- to 50-year prison sentence in Michigan for rape and kidnapping when in 2004 DNA evidence linked him to a cold murder case in Costa Mesa, officials said.

    Prosecutors said on July 18, 1988, Balcom attacked a pregnant Malinda Gibbons in her home as she unpacked (she and her husband had moved to Costa Mesa from Utah two days earlier). Balcom gagged Gibbons, bound her hands and feet with her husband’s ties, then raped and sodomized her and stabbed her in the chest before stealing her wedding ring and leaving, authorities said.

    Police said Gibbons’ husband, Kent, found her when he came home from work later that day.

    Balcom was working as a security guard at a department store on Harbor Boulevard and was living in a motel only a quarter-mile away from the couple.

    Shortly after police linked Balcom to the crime, they said he had been implicated in two similar crimes shortly after. Authorities said Balcom robbed and sexually assaulted a woman in Santa Ana six days after the Gibbons slaying then moved to Michigan where he was convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman there.

    http://dailypilot.com/articles/2009/03/12/topstory/dpt-balcom031009.txt

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    Who killed ‘sweetest person in the world?'

    A death penalty trial begins Monday for a man already serving a 50-year prison sentence in Michigan for a 1988 sexual assault and murder of a pregnant Costa Mesa housewife.

    Malinda Godfrey Gibbons was “the sweetest person in the world,” her brother told a Register reporter in 1988 a few days after his sister’s body was found bound, gagged, stabbed and sexually assaulted in her recently rented Costa Mesa apartment.

    “If they had known her,” said Matthew Godfrey, “they couldn’t have killed her.”

    That was one of the reasons her slaying was difficult to solve. Who in the world would want to kill the smiling, blond, pregnant 22-year-old woman who had just moved to Orange County with her husband from Utah?

    There was no sign of a forced entry and no sign of a struggle.

    Detectives thought it was the work of a stranger who may have just knocked on her door – the kind of crime that is almost impossible to solve -- unless you catch a break.

    In 2004, Orange County law enforcement said they got such a break.

    The Michigan state crime lab had just entered the nationwide DNA database, allowing local detectives to compare DNA samples from cold cases with past and present Michigan inmates.

    And when Costa Mesa detectives submitted the DNA recovered from the Gibbons crime scene, it was quickly matched to Jason Michael Balcom, a Michigan prisoner who was serving a 50-year sentence for rape – a crime that occurred in Battle Creek in 1988 just six weeks after Gibbons was killed.

    Balcom, who is now 42, was extradited to Orange County from Michigan in 2007.

    His jury trial – 24 years after the killing and eight years after he was identified as the suspect – starts Monday before Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno.

    Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy contends that Balcom murdered Gibbons during the commission of a sexual assault, a robbery and a burglary -- special circumstances which could lead to a death sentence. It is the first death penalty trial in Orange County this year.

    Balcom was living in a Costa Mesa motel and was working as a security guard at a department store at the time Gibbons was killed, according to police. He was a suspect in the Gibbons case early in the investigation because he was also arrested, tried and convicted of a similar sexual assault in Santa Ana that occurred about a week after Gibbons was killed.

    But there was insufficient evidence in 1988 to charge Balcom with murder, and the investigation went cold – until his DNA was matched to the crime scene in 2004. (DNA was not a viable law enforcement tool in 1988).

    Malinda Gibbons moved into a $650 a month apartment on Harbor Boulevard in Costa Mesa from a small town in Utah with her husband, Kent, just three days before July 18, 1988 – the day she was slain. She was pregnant, and was planning to be a stay-at-home mom while her husband of 11/2 years started his new job as an engineer at Western Digital Corp. in Irvine.

    But evil found her first.

    Kent Gibbons kissed his wife on his way out the door to work on the day she died, and then returned home nine hours later to horror. He found Malinda dead in the bedroom, dressed in a sweat suit and bound with his neckties, according to 1988 news reports. She had been choked, stabbed once and sexually assaulted, according police.

    She was also robbed of her wedding ring, watch, purse and a calculator.

    Balcom’s trial is scheduled to last about three weeks. If he is convicted and receives the death penalty, he will join 59 convicted killers from California on death row. There are currently more than 700 murderers statewide who are under a sentence of death, but there has not been an execution in the state for more than six years.

    http://www.ocregister.com/news/gibbo...om-county.html

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    Lawyer Admits His Client Raped, Killed Pregnant Newlywed in 1988

    A public defender admitted Monday morning during opening statements that his client raped and stabbed a woman to death in 1988 in Costa Mesa.

    Prosecutors allege -- and deputy public defender Thomas J. Lo acknowledged -- that Jason Balcom, 41, walked into the home of Malinda and Kent Gibbons's home and sodomized and killed the pregnant woman while her husband was at work.

    Balcom is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder in the commission of a rape, sodomy, robbery, and burglary. Prosecutors seek the death penalty in this case.

    In July 1988, 22-year-old Malinda Gibbons and her husband Kent Gibbons moved to Costa Mesa from Utah.

    On the morning of July 18, 1988, Kent Gibbons left for work and Malinda stayed home to unpack in their new apartment.

    While Malinda was home alone, Balcom is accused of entering her apartment and binding the victim's hands and feet using Kent Gibbons' neck ties.

    He is accused of raping and sodomizing Malinda Gibbons and then murdering her by stabbing her in the chest.

    Balcom is accused of stealing the victim's purse and wedding ring from her finger and fleeing the scene.

    At the time of the murder, Malinda was six weeks pregnant.

    Costa Mesa police collected evidence from the scene, including semen, but the case went cold until 1999.

    At that time, DNA test not available in 1988 was conducted on a carpet stain and a swab recovered from Malinda Gibbons.

    The suspect's DNA profile was then uploaded into the national database.

    In 2004, Balcom's DNA was entered into the national database as a result of a rape conviction in Michigan.

    On April 16, 2004, officers linked Balcom's DNA to the murder of Malinda Gibbons.

    Balcom was extradited to Orange County from Michigan, where he is serving a 30 to 50-year prison sentence for rape.

    http://www.39online.com/newsfix/ktla...0,792361.story

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    Testimony continues in killer’s penalty phase

    Expert testimony continued Thursday in the penalty phase trial of a convicted rapist who sexually assaulted and stabbed a pregnant Costa Mesa housewife in 1988.

    Orange County jurors, who earlier this week found Jason Michael Balcom guilty of murdering Malinda Godfrey Gibbons, 22, during a sexual assault, burglary and robbery, are expected to hear closing arguments Tuesday. They will then weigh whether Balcom should get the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Balcom, now 42, was recently out of juvenile hall in July 1988 when he went on a crime spree that included the strangulation, rape and murder of Gibbons, prosecutors said.

    She and her husband Kent Gibbons had just moved into their Mediterranean Village apartment from a small town in Utah so he could start a new job as an engineer. Gibbons, who always wanted to be a mother, was pregnant with their first child when she kissed her husband goodbye as he left for work on the day she was killed.

    He returned home at 6 p.m. to find his wife dead in the bedroom, dressed in a sweat suit and bound with his belt and neckties. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed once in the heart. She also had been robbed of her wedding ring, watch, purse and a calculator.

    The defense contends Balcom was raised by a mentally ill, abusive mother who lived a chaotic lifestyle with a string of men who introduced her to drugs and alcohol.

    Balcom's attorneys have been putting on experts, including a forensic psychologist Thursday, who said Laura Balcom, who committed suicide in 2005 by laying down on train tracks, suffered from a personality disorder affecting aspects of her life, including her relationships.

    Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy in his opening statement in the penalty phase said the brutal facts of the rape and murder on July 18, 1988, and other aggravating factors warrant the death penalty.

    Murphy said the jury should also weigh Balcom's crime spree during that summer after he was released from Orange County juvenile hall at age 18 when he murdered Gibbons and raped and robbed three other women.

    http://www.ocregister.com/news/balco...s-penalty.html
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    Jurors hear arguments in Balcom case

    Decision is to give the convicted murderer, rapist life without parole or the death penalty.

    By Alicia Lopez
    The Daily Pilot

    While convicted murderer and rapist Jason Michael Balcom sat and showed no emotion, attorneys explained to jurors during the penalty phase of the trial Wednesday why they should vote for death or life without parole for the killing of Malinda Gibbons.

    Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy took issue with the idea that anything in Balcom's childhood was significant enough to influence his decision to rape and murder the young, pregnant Costa Mesa resident in 1988.

    Instead, he said, Balcom, 42, did it because he chose to.

    "He did it because he liked it," Murphy said in the Central Justice Center courtroom. "He wanted to do it. He did it. He liked it and he did it again."

    Deputy public defender Dolores Yost told jurors the cumulative affect of Balcom's unstable childhood was enough to affect the impulses of the then-18-year-old.

    His should not be an excuse, Murphy said, because Balcom was old enough to decide what to do and to know what he was doing.

    "How old do you have to be before you understand the look of terror in someone's eyes?" he asked.

    Along with his youth and negative childhood, Yost said what should be considered when considering death or life without parole is Balcom's intention.

    She said the fact that he did not kill the woman he raped before Gibbons, or the two he raped after — and the fact that he likely used a knife from Gibbons' home to kill her — meant he did not plan to murder. Not planning the murder, she said, makes it spontaneous; therefore he is less culpable.

    Murphy argued that Balcom's youth was no more harsh than the typical child living in just about any Southern California community.

    He said nothing from Balcom's childhood would explain what he did — he played sports and had a buffer to his moody mom in his aunt and cousin.

    He said the defense consistently took acorns and grew them into oak trees, as in the testimony that Balcom's mom used cocaine in the 1970s, which turned into her being a drug abuser.

    Testimony that Balcom was sexually abused was another example, Murphy said. He argued that most of the sexual abuse brought up in the trial was not certain. Balcom did not remember an incident his cousin related about abuse by a male babysitter when the two were about 7.

    Balcom told doctors he remembers being abused by convicted child sex offender, Essex Morse, who was his mother's boyfriend. But, Murphy said, that abuse was horrible but mild compared to some and doesn't compare to the kind of abuse Balcom inflicted on his four rape victims.

    Yost argued that the jury did not need to see the abuse and Balcom's crimes as comparable, just that the abuse affected his behavior and was a mitigating factor.

    She argued that the cumulative affect of Balcom's childhood is meant to explain the rage, not justify it.

    "It is the product of shame and a sense of worthlessness," Yost said.

    She brought up testimony that, according to his aunt, Balcom's mother did not want him around, that she once hit him with a 2-by-4 and she brought a string of men into her home, including a sex offender and a man arrested multiple times on drug charges.

    Yost said the aunt also testified Balcom would be made to eat food from the trash or the ground — once because he had eaten her hamburger, and once because he had cut off his crust.

    Balcom's mother, Laura, killed herself by laying on a train track when the Gibbons' murder case was being investigated, according to both attorneys.

    "Her method of suicide was consistent with her overall life pattern," Yost said. "It was consistent with a borderline personality diagnosis."

    After describing Gibbons' rape and murder in detail, Murphy asked the jury to imagine what Gibbons, the gagged victim, may have been trying to scream out in her last moments.

    "She cried out for someone — someone help, don't let him get away with this," he said. "Her neighbors couldn't hear her. The police couldn't do anything then. The only people who can do something about it is you."

    Yost later reminded the jury that they promised not to let emotion or the desire for vengeance determine their decision. She said along with the abuse and age, the fact that he had the opportunity to kill again and didn't means he is not the worst of the worst, and that means this is not a death-penalty case.

    "You do not value Malinda Gibbons by a verdict of death," she said. "I beg you to show mercy, show compassion and reach a verdict of life without parole."

    She said his sentence began at 18 and will finish when he dies in prison alone.

    The jury is scheduled to come back Thursday morning to receive instructions and start deliberations.

    http://articles.dailypilot.com/2012-...chael-balcom/2
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    Jury deadlocks on death penalty for rapist-murderer

    A mistrial was declared Tuesday in the penalty phase of a trial for a Michigan man who was convicted last week of sexually assaulting and murdering a pregnant Costa Mesa housewife in 1988.

    Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno declared the mistrial after jurors announced they were hopelessly deadlocked at 10-2 in favor of the death penalty for convicted killer Jason Michael Balcom, now 42.

    Briseno ended the penalty phase after each juror said further deliberations would not resolve the impasse. "There is no reasonable probability that this jury will reach a unanimous verdict," Briseno said.

    Members of the nine-woman, three-man jury deliberated for about eight hours over three days before deadlocking on what penalty should be imposed: life without the possibility of parole or a death sentence.

    They rushed from the courtroom – some with tears brimming in their eyes – after the mistrial and declined to answer questions from a reporter.

    Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy announced immediately that he will seek a second penalty phase for Balcom, who is currently serving a 30-to-50-year sentence in Michigan on a separate rape conviction there. Briseno scheduled a hearing on April 9 for further proceedings.

    Murphy argued during the first penalty phase that Balcom deserves the death penalty because of the cruel nature of the Gibbons murder, the impact it had on her family, and because of other violent sexual assaults Balcom committed when he was 18.

    Balcom sat impassively at the counsel table as the mistrial was declared.

    He had just been released from Orange County juvenile hall in July 1988 when he launched a three-month crime spree that included the sexual assault and stabbing death of Malinda Gibbons, 22, in her Costa Mesa apartment.

    The same jury that deadlocked in the penalty phase on Tuesday convicted Balcom last week of first-degree murder during the commission of a sexual assault, a robbery and a burglary – special circumstances that triggered the penalty phase.

    Gibbons was 22 and pregnant when she and husband Kent moved into the Mediterranean Village on Harbor Boulevard from a small town in Utah in the summer of 1988 after he took a job as an engineer.

    Three days later, Kent Gibbons returned home from work and found his wife dead in the bedroom semi-nude, bound with his belt and neckties and gagged. She had been stabbed once in the chest, and the killer robbed her of her wedding ring, watch, purse and a calculator.

    Murphy told the jury that Balcom stood outside the apartment watching Malinda Gibbons as she organized her apartment before deciding to act. Balcom got inside the Gibbons' apartment, perhaps by simply knocking on the door, and then he punched her in the face to subdue her before he initiated his violent sexual assault.

    Balcom was living in a Costa Mesa motel with his mother less than a mile from the Gibbons' apartment complex in 1988, and he quickly became a suspect in her death after he was arrested in connection with a separate rape in Costa Mesa a week later. But there was insufficient evidence at the time to charge him with her murder and the case went cold.

    But he was arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced to 30 to 50 years in a Michigan prison for a sexual assault in Battle Creek in September 1988. He has been in custody ever since.

    In 2004, a national database matched his DNA to genetic material found at the Gibbons' crime scene. He was extradited from Michigan to stand trial here.

    Defense attorney Doloris Yost asked for a life-without-parole sentence, contending that Balcom was the product of an unstable upbringing by his mother, who was a mentally ill, self-absorbed, needy and manipulative woman who later committed suicide by lying on a railroad track.

    This was the first death-penalty trial in Orange County this year.

    http://www.ocregister.com/news/penal...m-gibbons.html
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    Balcom death-penalty phase set for May 14

    An Orange County judge on Monday scheduled May 14 for the penalty phase re-trial of Jason Michal Balcom, who was convicted last month of sexually assaulting and murdering a pregnant Costa Mesa housewife in 1988.

    That same jury later deadlocked in the penalty phase at 10-2 in favor of a death sentence, prompting Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno to declare a mistrial.

    Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy then sought a second penalty phase for Balcom, who is also currently serving a 30-to-50-year sentence in Michigan for a separate rape conviction there.

    A jury impaneled for the penalty phase retrial will be asked to decide what punishment Balcom should receive for the July 1988 sexual assault and stabbing death of Malinda Gibbons in her Costa Mesa apartment. The only verdicts will be life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.

    Murphy argued during Balcom's first penalty phase that the convicted rapist deserves the death penalty because of the cruel nature of the Malinda Gibbons murder, the impact it had on her family, and because of other violent sexual assaults Balcom committed when he was 18.

    Gibbons was 22 and pregnant when she and husband Kent moved into the Mediterranean Village on Harbor Boulevard from a small town in Utah in the summer of 1988 after he took a job here as an engineer. Three days later, Kent Gibbons returned home from work and found his wife dead in the bedroom semi-nude, bound with his belt and neckties and gagged. She had been stabbed once in the chest, and the killer robbed her of her wedding ring, watch, purse and a calculator.

    Defense attorney Doloris Yost asked for a life-without-parole sentence, contending that Balcom was the product of an unstable upbringing by his mother, who was a mentally ill, self-absorbed, needy and manipulative woman who later committed suicide by lying on a railroad track.

    It is first death-penalty trial in Orange County this year.

    http://www.ocregister.com/news/penal...th-balcom.html
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    Update

    Jason Balcom: A penalty-phase retrial is still pending for Balcom, convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering a pregnant Costa Mesa housewife in 1988. That same jury later deadlocked in the first penalty phase at 10-2 in favor of a death sentence.

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/d...y-killing.html
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    Prosecutor seeks death for rapist, killer

    A convicted rapist deserves the death penalty for murdering a 22-year-old pregnant housewife during a sexual assault in Costa Mesa as part of a brutal crime spree in the summer of 1988, an Orange County prosecutor told a jury Wednesday.

    Jason Michael Balcom, 43, terrorized and raped four women during a six-week period after he was released from juvenile hall in July 1988, and inflicted a life of grief and anguish on the family of Malinda Godfrey Gibbons, who was beaten, sexually assaulted, bound and stabbed to death, Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy said.

    The aggravating factors of the murder, the violent attacks on the other women and the lingering devastation to those who cared about Gibbons warrants a death sentence, Murphy told the jury in his opening statements of Balcom's second penalty-phase trial here.

    But defense attorney Dolores Yost said Balcom, who was 18 when the crimes occurred, was the product of a horrible upbringing by a destructive and abusive single mother who was manipulative, self-absorbed and possibly bipolar.

    Yost told the jury in her opening statement that Balcom's mother rebelled against her racist parents by consorting with black men, and that she twice became pregnant with biracial children, including Balcom. Her parents rejected her and her son, and she went on to a series of dysfunctional relationships with other men, none of whom provided an appropriate father figure for Balcom, Yost said. His mother was a "broken woman," Yost said, who years later committed suicide by lying on railroad tracks.

    The deputy public defender said she will ask the jury in Judge Francisco Briseno's courtroom to recommend a life term in prison without the possibility of parole because of the mitigating factors surrounding Balcom's childhood.

    Balcom, who is serving a 50-year prison sentence for a September 1988 rape in Battle Creek, Mich., was convicted last year of special-circumstances murder for killing Gibbons during a sexual assault, robbery and burglary. But that same jury deadlocked at 10-2 in favor of death during a penalty phase, setting the stage for the retrial that's now under way.

    It is the first of what could be 10 death-penalty trials in Orange County in 2013.

    According to police reports and news accounts, Malinda Godfrey Gibbons was 22 and pregnant in the summer of 1988 when she and her husband moved into a Costa Mesa apartment to start their new life together. She was, her brother said, "the sweetest person in the world."

    But a few days later – on July 18, 1988 – Kent Gibbons returned home from work and found the semi-nude body of his wife. She had been bound and gagged with his ties, stabbed in the chest and sexually assaulted. The case was unsolved for more than 25 years.

    In 2004, the Michigan state crime lab contributed to a national DNA database of convicted felons, allowing Costa Mesa police detectives to compare genetic materials recovered from Gibbons' body to past and present Michigan inmates. Jason Balcom was a match.

    The penalty phase is scheduled to last about three weeks.

    If Balcom receives the death penalty, he will join 59 convicted killers from Orange County on death row. There are more than 700 murderers statewide who are under a sentence of death, but there has not been an execution in the state for more than seven years.

    http://www.ocregister.com/news/balco...h-gibbons.html
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    Jurors recommend death for rapist, killer

    A convicted rapist sat impassively in court Thursday as an Orange County jury announced that he faces the death penalty for the sexual assault and stabbing death of a pregnant, 22-year-old Costa Mesa woman housewife during a brutal six-week crime spree in the summer of 1988.

    The jury deliberated for eight hours before deciding that Jason Michael Balcom, 43, should receive the maximum punishment for the special circumstances murder of Malinda Godfrey Gibbons, who was beaten, sexually assaulted, bound and stabbed in the chest.

    Several members of Gibbons' family, including her mother, two brothers, a sister and her husband, sat silently holding hands in the courthouse gallery as the verdict was announced. They said later that they were relieved that the case was finally over and that they could go on with their lives.

    Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy argued that the aggravating factors of the slaying, plus the violent attacks on three other women and the lingering devastation to those who cared about Gibbons warranted a death sentence.

    It was the second penalty phase for Balcom, who was 18 when he launched his one-man crime spree a few days after he was released from a juvenile detention facility in Orange County. The first jury voted to convict Balcom of special circumstances murder in March 2012, but deadlocked on the penalty question.

    Defense attorney Dolores Yost argued that said Balcom was the product of an excruciating upbringing by an abusive single mother who was manipulative, self-absorbed and mentally ill. She claimed that Balcom suffered sexual and emotional abuse as a child and was in crisis when he was released from the Los Pinos juvenile facility a few months after his 18th birthday.

    Balcom, who is already serving a 50-year prison term for a September 1988 rape in Battle Creek, Michigan, now faces sentencing by Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno on June 14. No Orange County judge has ever over-ruled a jury's death penalty recommendation.

    Malinda Godfrey Gibbons was 22 and pregnant in the summer of 1988 when she and her husband Kent moved from Utah into a Costa Mesa apartment when he landed a job in Orange County. Just a few days later – on July 18, 1988 – Kent Gibbons returned home from work and found the semi-nude body of his wife. She had been bound and gagged with his ties, stabbed in the chest and sexually assaulted.

    The case was unsolved for more than 15 years.

    In 2004, the Michigan state crime lab contributed to a national DNA database of convicted felons, allowing Costa Mesa police detectives to compare genetic materials recovered from Gibbons' body to past and present Michigan inmates. Jason Balcom was a match.

    This was the first death penalty verdict in Orange County in more than a year.

    Balcom will likely join 59 convicted killers from Orange County on death row.

    There are more than 700 murderers statewide who are under a sentence of death, but there has not been an execution in the state for more than seven years, in part because of a moratorium on executions while a judge decides whether lethal injection is crfuel and unusual punishment.

    http://www.ocregister.com/news/death....Gn1UNgtx.dpuf
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