Hours after a woman had a security system installed at her Huntington Beach home, the ex-boyfriend she was trying to protect herself from forced his way into the residence and brutally beat and strangled her, a prosecutor told jurors on Monday.
During opening statements in the special circumstances murder trial of Jason Becher there was no dispute that he is responsible for the 2016 killing of 50-year-old Marylou Sarkissian at her home in the 9000 block of Litchfield Drive.
But while Deputy District Attorney Janine Madera alleged that Becher, now 46, lay in wait in Sarkissian’s backyard until attacking her when she let a dog out, Deputy Public Defender Irene Pai countered that the killing was the result of an explosion of emotions on Becher’s part, not a pre-planned slaying.
“The issue is, what was he thinking at the time he inflicted blow after blow after blow that resulted in Marylou Sarkissian’s death,” Pai said.
Both attorneys acknowledged that the couple had a troubled relationship, marked by domestic abuse on the part of Becher and his repeated accusations that Sarkissian was unfaithful and had stolen his money. Months before the killing, Sarkissian got a restraining order preventing Becher from contacting her or her children, an order Becher allegedly violated days later by beating and choking Sarkissian.
The attorneys also both acknowledged that Becher – a marijuana grower and dealer at a time before the state legalization, when it was still a solely cash-based business – had entrusted Sarkissian with safeguarding his money. The defense attorney alleged that Sarkissian had laundered and then stolen the money, while the prosecutor raised the possibility that the two had an agreement allowing her to keep a cut of it.
Jurors on Monday were played numerous voicemails to Sarkissian and her family, including her teenage son, in which Becher made explicit threats against Sarkissian. But they also heard evidence that Sarkissian had agreed to meet with Becher at a hotel, despite the restraining order. That meeting apparently ended with more allegations of domestic abuse.
“Something clicked and she was done with him,” Madera told the jury. “She is done with him, so he is done with her. So he sets his plan in motion to end Marylou’s life.”
On Dec. 1, 2016, a home security system with motion-triggered cameras was set up at Sarkissian’s home. That afternoon, according to the prosecutor, Becher told an uncle that it was going to be “a bad day in Huntington Beach” as he left the Anaheim home he lived at with his family.
Madera said Becher attempted, but failed, to break into the home with a crowbar, so instead waited until Sarkissian let her dog out. After killing Sarkissian and leaving her body in a bathroom, Becher “calmly” attempted to cover his tracks, the prosecutor said.
In surveillance footage played in court, Becher apparently spotted boxes for the components of the new security system in Sarkissian’s kitchen after her killing.
“New home security system?” Becher said. “How did that (expletive) work out for you?”
Pai acknowledged that Becher is a “hothead” who has a temper, but denied he ever intended to kill Sarkissian. Becher was drunk the night of the slaying, had been told by Sarkissian for months that he was only imagining that she had stolen his money and that led to an “explosion of anger,” the defense attorney told jurors.
If convicted, Becher faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Source: Orange County Register
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