LANCASTER – A jury reached a verdict of death Tuesday for 24-year-old Corey Lynn King, the man who murdered a woman and her three young daughters in 2008 and then set their Lancaster home on fire.
On Sept. 9, 2008, Sonya Durfield Harris and her three daughters, Ebony Horton, Melinda Harris, and Kayla Clark, were found dead in separate areas of their burning home in the 1500 block of East Avenue J-3 in Lancaster.
Harris, 43, was stabbed more than 50 times; 13-year-old Ebony was stabbed more than 60 times; 11-year-old Melinda was stabbed, beaten and stomped to death; and 9-year-old Kayla was strangled, according to Deputy District Attorney Robert Sherwood.
Evidence at trial revealed that King, a family friend, murdered everyone inside the home during the early morning hours of Sept. 9, 2008. Following the killings, King drove to a nearby gas station in the family’s car, filled up several bottles with gasoline, poured it on the victims and throughout the house, and then set the bodies and the home on fire.
King was found guilty on Nov. 25 of four counts of first-degree murder with the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and torture for three of the victims.
King also was found guilty of arson of an inhabited structure and grand theft auto.
Sherwood said that a motive for the murder of Sonya Harris was unclear but added that the children were murdered because they were witnesses to their mother’s murder.
During the penalty phase of the trial, the jury heard evidence that King committed another murder in May 2008 in Altadena. In that case, King allegedly bludgeoned a 90-year-old woman to death and then set her house on fire, Sherwood said.
King is due back in court on Feb. 20.
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