The jury that convicted Ramon Salcido of murdering his wife, two daughters, boss and three others returns next week to decide whether the former winery worker should die in the gas chamber.
Salcido, 29, was found guilty Tuesday in an April 14, 1989, rampage in which he crisscrossed the Sonoma Valley in California wine country, stabbing and shooting his victims. He slit his daughters' throats and left them to die at a dump.The sentencing stage begins Tuesday. The jury, which reached its verdict on its fourth day of deliberations, can recommend death or life in prison without parole.
"What this means for the families is perhaps one chapter of this horrible nightmare will be laid to rest," Prosecutor Peter Bumerts said after the verdict.
"We knew he was going to die in prison, one way or another," said defense attorney Marteen Miller.
Although Salcido confessed in a taped statement that was the prosecution's key evidence, his lawyers tried to save his life by portraying him as suicidal and mentally ill. They argued he suffered from a psychotic depression that was aggravated by an alcohol and cocaine binge in the hours before the rampage.
The prosecution scoffed at the notion Salcido was suicidal, saying the killer demonstrated his methodical ways when he stepped over dead bodies to bandage his finger, which he cut while stabbing a victim to death.
He was convicted of six counts of first-degree murder, one of second-degree murder and other offenses.
A first-degree murder conviction requires proof of premeditation; defense attorneys had urged jurors to opt for second-degree murder or manslaughter.
According to testimony, Salcido began his murderous frenzy after a night of bar-hopping and cocaine-snorting.
Salcido was arrested in his native Mexico four days after the rampage. He told investigators he was mad that his wife had hidden the fact that their first child was fathered by another man.