VISTA — Almost five years after the brutal murder of Carolyn Rebecca Neville, her killer was sentenced to death Aug. 19 in a Vista courtroom.
A North County man received the harshest punishment allowable for the 2005 murder of a Vista woman who interrupted a robbery in her home.
Derlyn Ray Threats, 29, has maintained he was not the one who murdered Neville at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 1, 2005. Threats, his supporters and his attorneys argued the real killer was one of Threats’ friends. Threats did not testify in his two-month-long murder trial.
But neither jury nor judge was convinced that Threats was not solely responsible for the crime.
Palpable tension rose as Superior Court Judge K. Michael Kirkman called the “unmerciful and repeated assaults” on Carolyn Rebecca Neville “the most aggravated, callous torture of a victim this court has ever seen.”
The 24-year-old mother was stabbed more than 70 times with one of the final blows coming from garden shears the killer took from her garage. She had just returned home from a visit to her son’s kindergarten class.
Last fall, a North County jury of eight men and four women recommended the death penalty after finding Threats guilty of first-degree murder, robbery and burglary.
It’s not the first time Threats has been convicted of a crime. In 2003, while he was an active-duty Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, then Sgt. Threats was convicted in a military court of stealing a gun and bullets from an armory. He served time in the base brig before leaving the military.
In 1996, as a teenager, Threats took part in an armed robbery of a fast food restaurant in Vista.
Carolyn Rebecca Neville was a college student and a waitress at Shadowridge Country Club. The deadly attack came more than a year after her wedding to husband Stephen Neville who was at work when his wife was murdered in their Vista home.
Stephen Neville addressed the court during the sentencing hearing. He said he believed Threats deserved the death penalty. He focused directly on Threats who turned away closing his eyes as Neville spoke.
“You have made me into a hard, calloused and unsympathetic individual,” Stephen Neville said.
“And I will not rest comfortably until I see you take your last breath on this earth.”
Threats did not speak at the sentencing, nor did he show any reaction to Kirkman’s pronouncement that he “shall be put to death within the walls of a California state prison.”