A jury recommended the death penalty today for a white man who stabbed a black transient in a racially motivated attack near a Palm Springs restaurant.
David John Reed, 51, was convicted on Sept. 8 by the same jury of first-degree murder in the death of Ricky Mosley with the special circumstance that the killing was a hate crime. The panel heard evidence in the penalty phase of the trial that included allegations that Reed murdered two other men in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Reed was not charged in those killings because of a lack of fingerprints and other evidence, according to the prosecutor, who quoted Reed allegedly telling a friend, "You know, murder's the easiest thing to get away with."
"That gives you insight into his mindset," Deputy District Attorney Christopher Ross told jurors.
Judge James S. Hawkins will decide on a future date whether to sentence Reed to death or to life in prison without possibility of parole.
Reed attacked Mosley near Billy Reed's restaurant and a Chevron station in the 1800 block of North Palm Canyon Drive on March 9, 2004.
During the guilt phase, Ross played a taped interview in which Reed discussed the killing with detectives and used a racial epithet to describe the victim. The prosecutor said Reed waited two weeks for Mosley to come around the restaurant and then attacked him. Mosley was found stabbed through the heart.
Reed has several tattoos, one reading "white pride" and another saying "Peckerwood," a term Ross said is associated with white supremacy. He said Reed had ties to the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang at one time.
Reed's attorney, John Patrick Dolan, told the jury that Reed became "enraged" after his wife told him Mosley had "brutally" sexually assaulted her near Toucans Tiki Lounge in Palm Springs. When Reed found Mosley, he only intended to confront him about the alleged assault, Dolan said, but Mosley responded in a "belligerent, caustic manner," and Reed felt both threatened and angry.
"Mr. Reed believed he was defending himself and his wife when he attacked Mr. Mosley," Dolan said.
Reed's two other alleged murders and other crimes, including a prior conviction of assault with a deadly weapon, were aggravating circumstances that the jury had to consider in recommending Reed's sentence, according to the prosecutor.