RANCHO SANTA FE — A man who killed his 71-year-old father inside the victim’s Rancho Santa Fe home was sentenced on May 25 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Leighton Dorey IV, 45, was convicted by a San Diego jury last year of first-degree murder, plus a special circumstance allegation of torture, for the May 30, 2017, killing of Leighton Dorey III.
Prosecutors said that after spending the prior four years living in France, the younger Dorey showed up at his father’s La Brisa home, then killed him because of a perceived lack of financial support.
The elder Dorey was beaten and strangled, according to the prosecution, which alleged his injuries included fractures to his spine, neck and ribs, as well as a broken nose, broken jaw, skin torn from his hands and many of his teeth strewn about his body from the force of the beating.
The conviction came in Dorey’s second murder trial.
His first trial held in Vista resulted in a hung jury that voted 11-1 in favor of convicting him. Dorey represented himself in the second trial at the downtown San Diego courthouse.
Dorey testified on his own behalf and told jurors he killed his father in self-defense after the victim tried to strangle him with a belt.
He testified that after bending down to tie one of his shoelaces that had come undone, his father screamed, “Now you’re dead,” threw his belt around his son’s neck and began choking him.
During an ensuing struggle, Dorey claimed he tried to subdue his father by putting him in a sleeper hold and inadvertently took his life.
He then told jurors that in a panic, he attempted to stage the scene first as a suicide. When those efforts failed, he said he attempted to make it look as though his father had been killed by an accidental fall down a stairway at the home.
Though he described his treatment of his father’s body as “horrific” and “repulsive,” he said, “I do think what I did was wrong. But it’s not murder.”
On the stand, Dorey also extensively detailed his financial troubles, his issues finding consistent work while living overseas, his father’s unsupportive attitude toward his endeavors to develop “money-multiplier” software, and his belief that his father tried to poison him in 2013.
After the killing, Dorey said he drove to a police station in Murrieta and was prepared to turn himself in, but said, “I couldn’t make myself do it” and left to have “one more day of freedom.”
Law enforcement tracked him down in the Riverside County mountain community of Idyllwild one day later and arrested him.
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