Orange County Superior Court Judge James A. Stotler denied a defense motion to modify a jury-recommended sentence of death for Anthony Darnell Wade Tuesday morning and later in the day sentenced the Los Angeles 28-year-old to the state's ultimate penalty.
Wade raped, tortured and murdered 84-year-old widow Elizabeth “Bessie” Mae Whyman in her Anaheim home before stealing her car and trying to use one of her credit cards in San Bernardino on Jan. 10, 2010.
The jury in Stotler's courtroom convicted Wade of the crimes on Sept. 6 and then, after hearing defense experts say his bipolar disorder should spare him the death penalty in favor of life in state prison without the possibility of parole, voted unanimously voted for death last month.
Around midnight, Wade broke into Whyman's home on Paradise Road as she slept in a bedroom and then raped her, tied up her hands and feet and punched and kicked her. He tortured and murdered her by repeatedly stabbing her with a kitchen knife. He covered her body with a blanket before ransacking the home, stealing her purse and fleeing in her car, which he drove to San Bernardino.
Wade tried to use Whyman's stolen credit cards at a Food 4 Less store, but that led to a fight with an employee who would not accept a card from him with Whyman's name on it. Staff pepper-sprayed Wade and called the police. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, noticing the car Wade had been in was registered to Whyman, asked Anaheim Police to check her home. After finding an open door, officers went inside and discovered Whyman's corpse.
Anaheim Police Sgt. Rick Martinez called the attack on the elderly woman “brutal.”
A sentencing statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office indicates how much Whyman was beloved:
At the sentencing today, family members, friends, law enforcement, and neighbors delivered victim impact statements before the court. Michael Flinner, who was a close friend of the victim, spoke before the Court and said in part, “I will never forget her influence and the impact Bess made on my life. I miss her dearly. I loved Bess for all her good qualities and for being my friend.”
The victim's daughter-in-law, Lori Laucik, said in part, “One of the hardest things for me to accept is that my daughter will never have memories of her grandma BeBe's smile, watching her dance, hearing her play the piano and sing or feeling the love that BeBe had for her.”
Past and present neighbors of the victim submitted a victim impact statement addressing Wade, which said, “You did these things and no matter how difficult your life was as a young person, you didn't have the right to take Bess's life. Your actions took away a very special person. But you can't take away the fond memories we have of our friend, Bess. What you did has left a very big hole in all our hearts.”