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Compton man sentenced to death for killing girlfriend's daughter nearly 20 years ago

A Compton man convicted of sexually assaulting, stomping and murdering his girlfriend’s 11-year-old daughter nearly two decades ago was sentenced Friday to death.

James Heard, 58, killed sixth-grade honors student Katrina Brown in December 1990 while her mother was at work. Heard later said he could not remember the slaying because he had been drinking alcohol and smoking crack for more than a day.

But investigators tied him to the crime after recovering a part of his tongue that Katrina had bit off.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William R. Pounders accepted a jury's recommendation that Heard receive the death penalty. It is his second death penalty sentence; the California Supreme Court overturned the first in 2003 because of a “seriously deficient examination of a prospective juror during the jury selection process."

During Heard's trial, Deputy Dist. Atty. Danette Meyers told jurors that Katrina had marked her killer by biting off part of his tongue, and that he stomped on her and poured rubbing alcohol down her throat to get her to regurgitate before he strangled her to death.

Meyers, an experienced death penalty trial lawyer, has called the case “most brutal crime I have seen perpetrated in my lifetime."

"This is one guy I hope to see executed in my lifetime," she said. "I'm hoping they expedite this."

Heard was seen shortly after the killing walking along Market Street in North Long Beach, bleeding from his mouth. He was picked up by paramedics and taken to a Lakewood hospital, where he declined treatment and left against a doctor’s recommendation.

He was arrested across the street from the hospital.

-- Richard Winton

Comments () | Archives (21)

Let's see....average time on death row in California ...25 years.
This dude is 58 plus 25 equals 83...which by that time he can sue for cruel and unusual punishment.

Conclusion, California has NO DEATH PENALTY! (But they do have a TON OF TAX PAYER MONEY going into all these cases.......just sayin'.

He'll die of natural causes on California's cushy "Death Row".
Maybe it should be renamed; something like "Murderers' Retirement Home".

So glad this guys sentence wasn't overturned. I was a prospective juror and am totally happy that he'll spend the rest of his miserable life on death row!

Tragic story. And not excusing this guy's conduct, but getting one's toungue bit off must be as painful of an injury as one could imagine. I would probably lose my cool as well.

After a couple more re-trials, and seven or eight appeals, he'll die on death row (of old age). Si Se Puede!!!

Compton and watts are animal breeding grounds

Shame on the courts for letting this lapse for two decades! This monster should've been executed immediately. And as the state is so fond of doing, I am sure he will be coddled and allowed to appeal which will give him another 20 years. Damn you, those who permit and enable this kind of abuse of taxpayers' money! Our justice system is a disgrace and an absurd farce.

The mother should be punished. Women that are dumb enough to get with these type of scum should be sterilized.

Double-tap to the back of the skull.

I guess crack smokers don't make good baby sitters, but I feel very sorry for the girl's mom. She was at work for heavens sake, trying to make some money, trying to do the right thing.

The death penalty has become a farce.

This loser should have been taken out years ago. Crack and alcohol made him not remember??? He's a liar too.

I hope he suffers in prison.

Should it be bitten off? had bit off sounds kinda ghetto....I'm just saying

What??!! He should never have had his tongue in her mouth in the first place.

Hey Joe Sanchez

Are you serious? Why would you want to compare the actions of a drugged out pedophile who committed murder to something you might do if the conditions were simular? Did you forget we're talking an eleven year old girl who was tortured and murdered and your basically condoning his anger because he got his tongue bitten off. But not his actions??? A thirty eight year old man assaulting an eleven year old girl and you understand his anger and say you would be pissed off too? Dude, try thinking before you post such stupidity.

The man killed a young girl with rage and brutality. But now that he's caged and subdued, are we going to coldly kill him and feel superior?
Weren't we supposed to have moved beyond "An eye for an eye" 2000 years ago?

...the fiscal absurdity of retaining capital punishment as a sentencing option is well illustrated by Mister Heard's case....the tragedy of Katrina Brown's homicide and the attenuation of time devoted to celebrating and to sanctifying her life are compromised through the pursuit of another homicide and to attention dedicated to extended appeals....justice will not have been served....in peace....

I just dont get why they have to wait so long to execute all these people on Death Row . If they did i bet they would decrease overcrowding...

May god have mercy on his sole

To Joe Sanchez: Are you for real!!!???? Who cares that this monster might have been in pain as a result of his tongue being bitten??? This poor 11-year-old child probably did it in reaction to him pushing his tongue into her mouth as he was brutalizing her. Thank God she did that because it proved beyond any doubt that he assaulted her. Heard deserves to die a painful death! No child should ever die with that brutality as the last thing on her mind. She is in heaven; but he hasn't even paid by living a hell on earth. Instead, he has had a retrial. What an injustice!! And, if you can sympathize with this guy's pain, you need some help too!

It is a fact that a child is more likely to be abused or killed if their custodial parent exposes that child to their new lover, even more so if that lover stays in that residence.

Are you for reals? Are this facts, or your thoughts? I'm sorry this little girl die like this, may she be in a better place.


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