SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A man who fatally stabbed a clerk inside an adult bookstore in the Midway District was sentenced Friday to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Shaun Douglas Ward, 42, pleaded guilty last month to murder in connection with the Oct. 29, 2018, death of 65-year-old El Cajon resident Diane Spagnuolo.
Ward previously faced the death penalty in the case, but the life without parole sentence was agreed upon as part of his plea.
Spagnuolo, who was stabbed multiple times, was found dead inside the X-Spot Adult Store on Midway Drive, according to San Diego police. A surveillance camera in the shop captured images of Ward prior to the slaying, which was reported at about 1:45 p.m. that day.
Ward was arrested later that night at a residence in San Diego.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Joan Weber, who described what she saw in the surveillance footage as "one of the most horrific murder scenes I have ever witnessed as a judge," heard from several of Spagnuolo's family members, some of whom appeared in person, others who spoke remotely and others whose statements were read in court by prosecutor Melissa Vasel.
Spagnuolo's daughter, Alexis Wylie, said she struggled with summing up what her mother meant to her in just a few statements.
"Words of empty comfort mean nothing. She is gone from our lives forever and that won't change," Wylie said. "The face that my whole life was built around, I will never see again. The voice that would comfort with words 'til I sleep, will never speak. It is an empty space now and forever. And to the one who robbed us, you will never do so again."
Spagnuolo's loved ones described her as a caring person and spoke of her generosity of spirit.
Alexis' father, Alexander Wylie, remarked that at her funeral, they noticed a homeless woman who none of Spagnuolo's family knew was in attendance. They learned that she was paying tribute to Spagnuolo, who would let her into the store on some nights to get out of the cold.
Spagnuolo's brother, Saverio Spagnolie, said his sister was "the most amazing individual I have ever known," said it was " a blessing" to have her as a sister and that it pained him that he, his niece, and his other siblings lost her "for nothing, for absolutely nothing."
In addition to working at X-Spot for 24 years, family members said she also worked at the Salvation Army, as a seasonal tax preparer and a textiles processor.