SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A Garden Grove man was sentenced to death Friday for the murders of a Stanton sales associate and his secretary.
Hilbert Pineil Thomas, 43, was found guilty in February of two felony counts of special circumstances murder for multiple murders, murder during the commission of robbery, and murder during the commission of burglary.
After walking his niece to school on Feb. 2, 2009, Thomas entered Golden Sun Homes on Beach Boulevard and shot Matthew Scott Francis and Elizabeth Ann Palmer execution-style in the head, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Thomas then fled the scene in Palmer’s Lexus sedan, according to the District Attorney. After months of searching for Palmer’s car, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department located it on Oct. 24, 2009 at the El Dorado Inn on Lincoln Avenue in Anaheim.
“In an unrelated case, Thomas was served with a protective order by OCSD on Oct. 13, 2009, barring him from having contact with his ex-wife after having set her car on fire in Los Angeles County. As a term of the protective order, Thomas was ordered to turn over all of his firearms to law enforcement,” according to the District Attorney.
A few days later, Thomas turned over a firearm to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to comply with the protective order.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department then determined that Thomas had been driving Palmer’s car and begin investigating him in the double murder.
Detectives learned he had recently surrendered a gun to the LACSD and that weapon was later determined to be the same firearm used in the murders, according to the District Attorney.
During Friday’s sentencing, Palmer’s sister, Patricia Moore, read a letter that said in part:
“I have spent over five years wondering what I would say to you when I had the chance. No words can change the outcome of what you’ve done. I have prayed for the courage to say these words, ‘I forgive you. Not so you can feel better but so my family, Matt’s family, your family and I can heal and move forward.’ May God have mercy on you. It’s what’s Beth would have wanted.”