SANTA ANA – A 1988 rape victim sobbed on the witness stand as she described how convicted murderer Jason Michael Balcom tricked her into pulling her car over in Santa Ana by pretending to be a policeman, and then sexually assaulted her in her car.
“He took a part of me,” she cried as she pounded both hands on the witness stand. “And I’m not going to get it back.”
She was the first of the three 1988 rape victims to testify in the penalty phase of Balcom’s trial here to determine his punishment: life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death.
The same jury now considering penalty phase evidence convicted Balcom on Monday of the first-degree murder of Malinda Gibbons, a pregnant 22-year-old Costa Mesa housewife who was bound, gagged, sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in her apartment on July18, 1988 — just two days after Balcom raped the woman in Santa Ana.
Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy contends that Balcom has earned a death sentence because of the cruel facts surrounding the rape/murder of Gibbons, his crime spree in 1988 when he raped the three other women, and the devastating impact Gibbons’ slaying had on her family.
A second surviving rape victim in 1988 told the jury on Monday that Balcom raped her in her Costa Mesa apartment after taking what little money she had. She said he told her that since she didn’t have anything valuable, he had to rape her.
She testified that Balcom threatened that gang embers would track her down and kill her if she reported the rape to police, and that she carried the fear of that threat for the rest of her life, frequently moving from place to place as she tried to live inconspicuously.
The third rape victim described how she was raped in her car in Battle Creek, Michigan, and then chased down a street when she tried to escape and thrown over an embankment. “I’ve tried my best to put it behind me,” she said.
Deputy Public Defender Doloris Yost contends that her client should receive a life without parole sentence, in part because of his chaotic childhood where he was raised by a single mother who was mentally ill, manipulative, needy and difficult.
The penalty phase in Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno’s courtroom is expected to last a week.