Jurors Sob as Man Accused of Plunging Ice Pick Into Girlfriend's Skull & Molesting Her Corpse Found Guilty
Katie Pham had been stripped of most of her clothing and was laying on top of a mattress cover on the floor of the garage, according to the construction workers who found the 21-year-old's body.
Gunnarsson, 23, allegedly drove his girlfriend of one month, Katie Pham, to his stepfather's home and lured her into a garage, where he stabbed her in the head 10 times with an ice pick, according to a criminal complaint.
The body of Pham, 21, was found by construction workers on the property, according to the Kern County Sheriff's Office. Those workers told deputies that Gunnarsson was standing near the body covered in blood and that Pham had been stripped of most of her clothing and was laying on top of a mattress cover on the floor of the garage, according to the complaint.
"After Pham was deceased, Gunnarsson repositioned Pham and proceeded to touch her remains in a sexual manner," said Deputy District Attorney Samantha Allen.
The gruesome nature of the murder seemed to weigh heavy on some of the jurors when the verdict was read out in court on Wednesday.
The Bakersfield Californian reports that three of the jurors broke down in tears as the court clerk delivered the verdict. Those jurors "didn’t look directly at Gunnarsson" during the proceedings, according to the report.
Gunnarsson will now be sentenced on Oct. 25, according to court records.
He has been in the custody of the California Department of State Hospitals since his arrest, court records show, and was initially determined to be incompetent to stand trial in the case after his arrest in 2021.
Gunnarsson's lawyer argued that her client did not commit the crime and told jurors that if they did feel a need to convict it should be on a charge of voluntary manslaughter, reports The Bakerfield Californian.
Jurors did not heed that argument however and given the choice of manslaughter and first- and second-degree murder opted to convict Gunnarsson of first-degree murder.
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