Guilty verdicts in '09 police impostor killing
For Kathy Caufield, the journey to a downtown Los Angeles courtroom to hear a verdict Tuesday in her son’s 2009 slaying had been arduous.
Caufield had gone through one trial and the subsequent acquittal of Marquise Edwards in September 2010.
In January, she geared up for a new trial for Kenyon Aikens and Darryl Anthony Sconiers. Aikens and Sconiers, both 27, were accused of posing as police officers in a plot to rob Brian Caufield, 31, of cash and marijuana.
Kathy Caufield said that before the trial began, she realized that this was her last chance for justice.
She flew from Fort Worth for the proceedings. "This is it," she said she thought to herself.
On Tuesday, a jury found Aikens and Sconiers guilty of first-degree murder with special circumstances, attempted first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary.
As the verdicts were read in the courtroom, Kathy Caufield wept and bowed her head. Aikens and Sconiers did not display emotion but occasionally shook their heads.
Caufield said she is still processing the verdicts, which came after about two days of deliberations.
“To us,” she said of herself and her daughter, Ashley, 26, “this is the last thing we could do for Brian.”
She described Brian, who moved to Los Angeles around 2002, as a man who was dedicated to music. He had dreams of becoming a sound engineer and was known as DJ Spell, she said.
About two weeks into the trial, Caufield testified, recalling her son’s final moments. She said she had sat down on the couch after a day’s work and called him regarding some paperwork for a new place he was about to rent in Universal City.
She said she was about to hang up the phone when she heard a commotion and her son told her he thought he was being arrested. She said she then she heard a voice that said, “Don’t resist, don’t resist.”
Then came three distinct noises. “I heard pew, pew pew,” Caufield testified.
“I didn’t hear Brian’s voice after the shots,” she told the court.
In closing arguments, deputy district attorney Philip Marshall summarized the case as a planned robbery gone bad. He said Sconiers and Aikens targeted Caufield because he sold marijuana. Witnesses testified that Aikens and Sconiers had been at Caufield’s apartment days before the murder.
Afterward, the prosecutor said, the men changed their appearance and fled to Arizona. The TV show "America's Most Wanted" showed a segment on the two, and Sconiers, the son of a professional baseball player, was arrested in February 2011. Aikens was arrested in October 2011.
“Do not, please, do not let them get away with this,” Marshall told the jury.
Defense attorneys questioned the testimony of several witnesses, including Caufield’s roommate, Aikens’ roommate and his ex-girlfriend.
Attorney Ted T. Yamamoto, who represented Aikens, pointed out that there were no fingerprints or DNA evidence in the case.
Felipe de la Torre, who represented Sconiers in the case, said Marshall was attempting to convict the men using testimony from “shady” people.
After the proceedings Tuesday, Marshall said he felt like “justice was done today.”
“It’s just a very dangerous situation and unfortunately under those circumstances bad things can happen and they did happen,” he said. “Even with a good verdict, it is still sad.”
Aikens and Sconiers, who are facing life in prison without the possibility of parole, are due back in court March 20.
After the verdicts were read and the jury began to walk out of the courtroom, a juror with a red jacket turned toward the prosecutor. “Justice was done,” he said.
The man then looked at Kathy Caufield and said “I’m sorry for your son.”