MURRIETA (CBS) —  A man who raped and murdered his 27-year-old fiancee in a car parked at a Temecula mall was convicted Friday of first-degree murder and other charges.

A Murrieta jury deliberated about six hours before finding Mickey David Wagstaff guilty of murder.

They also found him guilty of special circumstance allegations of killing during a sexual assault and killing during a kidnapping in the death of Elizabeth Kellenbarger Amirian.

Wagstaff, 27, is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 27 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

According to testimony in the nearly two-week-long trial, the defendant sexually assaulted Amirian while she was locked in his Toyota Previa in a parking garage at The Promenade mall. The couple had been arguing about marriage plans and whether it was appropriate to have sex before exchanging vows, according to sheriff’s investigators.

Prosecutors said Wagstaff forced the victim to stay with him during the two days leading up to the slaying, driving to different locations before finally arriving in Temecula. At one point, he bound the woman’s ankles to keep her from escaping, authorities said.

Moments after the rape, a sheriff’s sergeant — in response to a request by mall security — approached Wagstaff’s vehicle and tapped on the window to check on the welfare of the occupants.

Sgt. Keith Knotek said that when Wagstaff saw him standing there, the defendant took out a knife and began plunging it into Amirian. Knotek said he smashed a window and deployed a Taser to stop the attack, which lasted more than a minute.

Amirian was stabbed 39 times in the head, back and neck and died at the scene.

Wagstaff’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Renee Rupp, argued that her client had not planned to kill his fiancee but panicked when he saw the law enforcement officer.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


Comments (4)
  1. Meg says:

    And so panicking when seing the police officer is his attorney’s justification or defense for her client having stabbed his fiancee 39 times? “I’m sorry I killed her, officer, but you scared me!”

  2. kma says:

    Life? He must have had an ass-wipe attorney like Robert Hale of “Hale and Nguyen” or he would be on easy street with the death penalty

  3. Kai says:

    This POS should be dead, and now the tax payer will have to pay for rest of his life.

  4. Chris says:

    Wow… seriously? The officer should’ve just shot him through the window. The woman might actually be alive then, and this POS would be dead.

    That’s how this story SHOULD have ended…

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