A woman was convicted Wednesday of second-degree murder for luring a man she dated out of his apartment, where he was shot and killed by her jealous and abusive boyfriend and then burned inside his car in La Jolla.
An eight-woman, four-man jury found 27-year-old Ny Nourn guilty of murder on its fourth day of deliberations. She was acquitted of arson of property.
It was the defendant's second trial. She was previously found guilty of first-degree murder and lying in wait, but those convictions were overturned on appeal.
Judge Charles Rogers dismissed the lying in wait allegation before the retrial and threw out the first-degree murder charge after completion of the prosecution's case-in-chief.
Nourn's former lover, Ronald Barker, was convicted in a separate trial of first-degree murder for killing 38-year-old David Allen Stevens. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Nourn faces 15 years to life behind bars when she is sentenced Jan. 18.
Deputy District Attorney Chandra Appell said Nourn lured Stevens out of his Pacific Beach apartment the morning of Dec. 23, 1998, telling him she had car trouble and needed his help.
Stevens was a marketing manager at a dating service called Perfect Match, and Nourn was a telemarketer there, the prosecutor said.
Appell told jurors that Nourn had gone out with Stevens, and had sex with him on their first date, though she was in a "very intense" relationship with the then-35-year-old Barker, whom she met after seeing his profile on the Internet.
After leaving Stevens' apartment the night of the murder, Nourn returned to her parents' home in Mira Mesa, where she was confronted by an angry Barker, the prosecutor said.
Barker wanted to end their relationship, but Nourn begged him not to, according to Appell. Nourn ultimately chose to go along with a plan to kill Stevens and burn his body in his car on a La Jolla roadway, the prosecutor said.
Nourn returned to Stevens' apartment and tricked the victim into helping her and her "brother" -- who turned out to be Barker -- with her supposed car trouble, Appell told the jury.
Stevens pulled to the side of the road when Barker flashed his headlights. The killer then jumped into Stevens' car and shot him twice in the head.
After the murder, Barker and Nourn decided to get rid of the evidence on La Jolla Scenic Drive North, the prosecutor said.
"They decided to burn Mr. Stevens' car with his body inside of it," Appell said.
The crime went unsolved for three years, until Nourn confided in some girlfriends that she was afraid of Barker, telling them he had threatened to kill her and her family, Appell said.
The friends convinced Nourn to go to the police.
"You don't get to sacrifice the innocent life of someone else because you feel threatened," Appell told the jury. "She (Nourn) chose David Stevens to be the victim."
Defense attorney Doug Brown argued Nourn didn't intend to kill or hurt Stevens.
Brown called Barker a "psycho" who represented himself as a 20-year-old single man when he met the then-17-year-old Nourn, who spent the first five years of her life in a refugee camp along the Cambodia-Thailand border before her family fled to America.
Nourn was an inexperienced teen with self-esteem and emotional problems when she met Barker, her attorney said, characterizing her then as "a troubled little girl."
Brown said Barker raped and beat Nourn, shot at her, threatened her with a knife and burned her with an iron, calling him a "man who would not let her out of his claws."
He said Nourn lived under the fear that she and her family were going to be killed.
"(Barker) made her participate (in Stevens' murder)," Brown told the jury. "She never thought that Barker was going to kill David Stevens. He said, 'If you ever tell anybody about this, I'm going to kill you and I'm going to kill your family.'"
Doctors who evaluated Nourn determined that she was a victim of Battered Woman Syndrome, the attorney said.
Women who have been battered sometimes act out in an irrational way, Brown said. He said Nourn's fear of Barker was justified.
"This guy was a killer. He wasn't going to let her get in the way," Brown told jury.
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