The following information was released by the Orange County District Attorney.
A man faces trial Monday for the special circumstances murder of an 84-year-old woman after breaking into her home and raping, torturing, and stabbing her before stealing her car. Anthony Darnell Wade, 28, Los Angeles, was indicted April 22, 2010, on one felony count of special circumstances murder. The special circumstances include murder in the commission of rape, robbery, burglary, and murder with torture. He was also indicted on one felony count each of elder abuse, first degree robbery, first degree residential burglary, torture, forcible rape, the unlawful taking of a vehicle, and sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon and causing great bodily injury to an elder. Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Prior to seeking the death penalty, a special circumstances committee consisting of the District Attorney, the Senior Assistant and Assistant District Attorney in charge of the Homicide Unit, and other prosecutors experienced in capital cases, meets and discusses the nature of the crime, the vulnerability of the victim, the defendant’s criminal record, and other factors. The committee also considers mitigating circumstances presented by the defense attorney.
California law permits the District Attorney to seek the death penalty if the aggravating factors substantially outweigh the mitigating factors. Aggravating factors are any facts above and beyond the circumstances of crime that increases the wrongfulness of the defendant’s conduct, the enormity of the offense, or the harmful impact of the crime. Mitigating factors are any facts that reduce the defendant’s blameworthiness or otherwise support a less severe punishment. The final decision to pursue the death penalty rests on the District Attorney.
Circumstances of the case
At approximately 12:00 a.m. on Jan. 10, 2010, Wade is accused of walking through an Anaheim neighborhood on Paradise Road and looking through windows with the intention of finding a vulnerable victim from whom he could steal a car. The defendant is accused of breaking into the home of 84-year-old widow Bessie Whyman through a broken window.
Wade is accused of raping Whyman, tying her up by her hands and feet, and punching and kicking the victim. He is accused of torturing and murdering her by repeatedly stabbing her with a kitchen knife and a saw. Wade is accused of then taking a blanket and covering the victim, leaving her body in the living room. He is accused of ransacking the victim’s home and stealing her purse and car before fleeing the scene and driving to San Bernardino.
Once in San Bernardino, the defendant is accused of being in possession of Whyman’s stolen credit cards at a Food 4 Less store. Wade is accused of getting into a physical altercation with an employee, and was subsequently detained by staff, who called the police. Police officers in San Bernardino determined that Whyman was from Anaheim and contacted the Anaheim Police Department (APD) for a welfare check of Whyman. At approximately 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 10, 2010, APD officers discovered the victim after entering Whyman’s home through an unlocked back door.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.
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