Death-penalty retrial set in pregnant woman’s slaying

10 Apr
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SANTA ANA – An Orange County judge on Monday scheduled May 14 for the penalty phase retrial of Jason Michal Balcom, who was convicted last month of sexually assaulting and murdering a pregnant Costa Mesa housewife in 1988.

That same jury later deadlocked in the penalty phase at 10-2 in favor of a death sentence, prompting Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno to declare a mistrial.

Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy then sought a second penalty phase for Balcom, who is also currently serving a 30-to-50-year sentence in Michigan for a separate rape conviction there.

A jury impaneled for the penalty phase retrial will be asked to decide what punishment Balcom should receive for the July 1988 sexual assault and stabbing death of Malinda Gibbons in her Costa Mesa apartment. The only verdicts will be life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.

Murphy argued during Balcom’s first penalty phase that the convicted rapist deserves the death penalty because of the cruel nature of the Malinda Gibbons murder, the impact it had on her family, and because of other violent sexual assaults Balcom committed when he was 18.

Gibbons was 22 and pregnant when she and husband Kent moved into the Mediterranean Village on Harbor Boulevard from a small town in Utah in the summer of 1988 after he took a job here as an engineer. Three days later, Kent Gibbons returned home from work and found his wife dead in the bedroom semi-nude, bound with his belt and neckties and gagged. She had been stabbed once in the chest, and the killer robbed her of her wedding ring, watch, purse and a calculator.

Defense attorney Doloris Yost asked for a life-without-parole sentence, contending that Balcom was the product of an unstable upbringing by his mother, who was a mentally ill, self-absorbed, needy and manipulative woman who later committed suicide by lying on a railroad track.

It is first death-penalty trial in Orange County this year.


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