A Santa Maria jury on Friday found Lompoc veteran Clay Murray guilty of the first-degree murder of Rebecca Yap in 2014, and he now faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The jury also found the special allegation -- personal use of a firearm -- and the special circumstances commission of murder during kidnapping to also be true.
Murray, a 67-year-old Vietnam War veteran, began trial March 2 after being charged in connection to the special circumstances murder of Yap, 34, who was shot and found outside of Murray's home just minutes after he chased her around his living room and repeatedly hit her while Yap begged him to let her go. The incident was caught on camera, as Murray's home surveillance system was running the entire time.
Attorneys Adrian Galvan and Michael Carty represented Murray during trial, and Supervising Deputy District Attorney Stephen Foley headed the prosecution team.
"We would like to express our condolences to the family of Rebecca Yap," Galvan said in a statement following Friday's verdict. "There are no winners in these types of cases."
He added, "We appreciate the time and effort that the jurors spent on deliberating and coming to their decisions. This was a very difficult case for everyone involved."
Prosecutors claimed Murray believed Yap stole from him twice and planned revenge, while defense attorneys maintained that Murray lawfully defended himself as Yap stabbed him multiple times with scissors.
"This was a horrific and terrorizing murder, so we think the verdict fits the crime," Foley said Friday. "The defendant in his recording was very compelling, saying that he was a victim of a violent robbery by Rebecca, and of course, that was all false, and disproven by his own surveillance video.
"This case would have been a very difficult nightmare scenario had the police not obtained the surveillance video," added Foley, who also commended law enforcement's efforts to put together a compelling case for murder.
During opening statements, Foley reminded jurors how badly Yap wanted to live, and how she pleaded for mercy and fought for her life, as Murray hit her repeatedly with the fat end of a pool cue stick multiple times on Oct. 13, 2014, inside Murray's North Daisy Street home in Lompoc.
The pair were actually friends, and often used drugs together, according to testimony. However, throughout their friendship, Murray had suspected Yap of stealing from him twice -- a Target credit card and some drugs.
According to prior testimony, Murray would send text messages to his associates about Yap, with additional messages indicating that he planned to lure Yap into his home.
The Oct. 13 surveillance video was played throughout the trial for jurors, beginning with Yap and Murray seen sitting in his bedroom. Murray had taken Yap's phone away, and when she tried to get it back, he began hitting her repeatedly with the cue stick.
Yap is heard crying and begging him to stop, before Murray grabbed a pair of handcuffs and ordered her to cuff herself while continuing to hit her.
In his arguments, Galvan maintained that while the video was agonizing to watch, Murray had lawfully protected himself, as Yap attacked him first and stabbed him with a pair of scissors. Furthermore, Murray was angry, as he suspected Yap of stealing from him.
"He didn't plan to rob, kidnap or murder Rebecca Yap," Galvan said during his closing statements. "He was upset, he was mad and wanted to confront her."
Murray is set to be sentenced May 23 in Judge Gustavo Lavayen's courtroom at the Santa Maria Superior Court.