Scott Pierce, 21, will join Anthony Sammons, 25, in prison for the rest of his life for a double murder last September that may have been racially motivated.
A jury of seven men and five women took just three hours Monday to convict Pierce of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the deaths of two Mexican orchard workers at Omak, Wash.
Pierce and Sammons beat Alejandro Sanchez Torres, 24, and Guillermo Roman Herrera, 21, at Pierce’s house in Omak. Then they took the victims to a nearby park and left them to drown in the Okanogan River.
Under state law, Okanogan County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Jim Thomas must sentence Pierce to life in prison without parole.
Thomas imposed that sentence on Sammons after a jury convicted him of the same charges in March.
Jurors heard a tape-recorded confession in which Pierce said he doesn’t consider himself a racist, but admitted he doesn’t like Mexicans - who make up a large minority group in Okanogan County.
Omak Police Sgt. Frank Rogers testified that Pierce angrily asserted in an earlier, unrecorded interview that the victims were “just spicks.” In that interview, Rogers said, Pierce used nothing but racial slurs to refer to Sanchez Torres and Roman Herrera.
Public Defender Scot Stuart said the defendants and the victims all were drunk, and the deaths resulted from a brawl that got out of hand. He asked the jury to convict Pierce of “hot-blooded second-degree murder,” not the coldly premeditated crime that was charged.
Stuart said Pierce and Sammons wouldn’t have picked up Sanchez Torres and Roman Herrera, whose car had broken down, if they were prejudiced against Mexicans. Nor would they have invited the orchard workers to go drinking with them, Stuart said.
Stuart rested his case Monday after calling only one witness, a store clerk who testified that Pierce seemed sober when he bought some beer earlier on the day of the murders. Pierce did not take the stand.
Deputy Prosecutor Ron Hammett scoffed at Stuart’s claim that the murders weren’t premeditated.
“You don’t have to plan this thing out two weeks in advance,” he said.
The assault took more than an hour, indicating “this is not one of those moments where someone snapped,” Hammet added.
Bill Stevenson of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune contributed to this report.
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