SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A 46-year-old man was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing his ex-girlfriend in her Huntington Beach home in December 2016.
Jason Joseph Becher was found guilty of first-degree murder May 13 for pummeling and strangling 50-year-old Marylou Sarkissian. The jurors also found him guilty of a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait.READ MORE: Los Angeles County Libraries To Host COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics
Orange County Superior Court Judge Shiela Hanson also added another five years to his sentence due to a prior conviction for domestic violence against another victim.
During the trial, Senior Deputy District Attorney Janine Madera played expletive-laden voicemails Becher left for the victim’s sister and son accusing the victim of infidelity and stealing money from him. Becher, who illegally cultivated marijuana and sold it for cash, stashed the money at Sarkissian’s home, some of which Sarkissian put into a safe deposit box, according to Madera.
“I know about six times you cheated on me,” he said on one voicemail. “And then you ripped me off at the end .. for like $500,000.”
According to prosecutors, Sarkissian made large cash deposits for five years into a bank account she had set up for Becher. From 2013 through 2016, Madera said Sarkissian spent $261,000 over her reported income as a pharmaceutical representative, though some of that money appeared to have come from her father and child support for her three children.
On Aug. 28, 2016, Sarkissian called 911 stating that Becher had pushed her, shoved her, choked her with a towel and held her hostage. Earlier that month, Sarkissian had obtained a restraining order against Becher.
In November, the two got together at a hotel, but Sarkissian put a final end to the relationship right before Thanksgiving. According to Madera, Sarkissian told Becher she called police and informed him that he could not “terrorize me, choke me, suffocate me with a pillow and think it’s OK.”
Becher responded with more outraged voicemails, prompting Sarkissian to block him, prosecutors said.
The evening before Sarkissian was killed, a new security system was installed at her Huntington Beach home. Phone records show that Becher was at the home at about 11 p.m. that night, prosecutors said.READ MORE: Cal State University Will Require Faculty, Staff, Students On Campuses To Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19
Investigators said they suspect Becher unsuccessfully tried to break into the home with a crowbar before waiting for her to let her dog out so he could make his way inside, Madera said.
Sarkissian sustained multiple rib fractures, a broken nose and there was evidence she was strangled, Madera said.
Becher then drove to his sister’s home in Oregon, but she and her husband convinced him to turn himself into authorities.
Irene Pai, Becher’s attorney, admitted that he killed Sarkissian, but said that she did not believe he ever “entertained an intent to kill.”
“People who plan a murder and plan not to be apprehended afterward usually don’t turn themselves in,” Pai said.
The attorney said Becher grew up in poverty and was frugal despite making hundreds of thousands of dollars selling marijuana. She also said he sustained a brain injury in a car crash when he was 12 that affected his ability to control his temper.
“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. “I’m not asking you to like Jason Becher. I’m not asking you to relate to him.”
Jurors also heard testimony about the defendant’s prior conviction for domestic violence against another girlfriend in 2005.MORE NEWS: Hiking Groups Emerge As Way For Angelenos To Combat Pandemic-Caused Loneliness
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)