Curstis James Hill
Curstis James Hill
Courtesy of OCDA

Curtis James Hill Convicted of Murdering World War II Vet Cecil "Lucky" Warren on Veterans Day

Curtis James Hill was convicted today for the beating-murder of a World War II veteran on Veterans Day 2003.

The 81-year-old victim did not actually die until three years later.

And Hill had been scheduled to be released from prison in August for the robbery and assault on Cecil "Lucky" Warren, but the filing of murder charges kept the 29-year-old inmate and his partner in crime locked up.

Warren was 77 and working as a handyman cleaning up around a Huntington Beach bank parking lot the morning of Nov. 11, 2003, when he spotted Hill and John Kirk McKinney inside his van parked there. When Warren asked the burglars what they were doing in his van, they responded by hitting and kicking him in the head, stealing his wallet with $50 inside and leaving him moaning on the ground.

A half hour later or so, a passerby found Warren bleeding and moaning on the ground and called 9-1-1. Warren was able to give police a brief description of his attackers before losing consciousness. He was taken to a hospital and spent the next three and a half years in a coma and on life support.

Hill, 29, of Huntington Beach, pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Oct. 10, 2006,  to nine years in state prison for one felony count of second degree robbery, one felony count of aggravated assault, and admitted to sentencing enhancements for great bodily injury to an elder and committing a crime against a vulnerable victim.

After being found guilty by a jury of one felony count of second degree robbery and one felony count of aggravated assault, with the sentencing enhancement for committing a crime against a vulnerable victim found true, McKinney was sentenced on Feb. 2, 2007, to four years in state prison. He is also 29 and from Surf City.

Warren died on Sept. 22, 2007, without ever coming out of the coma. On the grounds that Hill and McKinney caused the injuries that killed Warren, the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) charged the pair with murder on Sept. 4, 2009. At the time, both were still serving their sentences for the assault and robbery convictions. In fact, McKinney was hit with the new charge three days after he was originally scheduled to be released.

A jury today found Hill guilty of one felony count of special circumstances murder in the commission of a robbery. He faces a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole at his sentencing Dec. 16 in Santa Ana.

McKinney, who faces the same counts and possible sentence, has a jury trial scheduled to begin Feb. 27 in Santa Ana.

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