Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Wayne Adam Ford: The Remorseful Serial Killer

An Ongoing Case

Humboldt County Courthouse
Humboldt County Courthouse.

On November 6, 1998, Wayne was arraigned at Humboldt County's Superior Court. He was charged with only one count of first-degree murder, that of Jane Doe. The other murders were not committed in the court's jurisdiction. Therefore, Wayne could only be tried in the counties where the bodies were found.

During the proceedings, Wayne complained to Judge W. Bruce Watson that he didn't have a lawyer, even though he repeatedly requested one. The court then appointed attorney Kevin Robinson to defend Wayne. Robinson immediately entered a plea of "not guilty" on behalf of his new client.

Robinson confers with Wayne Adam Ford
Robinson confers with
Wayne Adam Ford.
One of the primary issues that Robinson wanted to address was the fact that Wayne was allegedly prevented from having contact with a lawyer from the moment of his arrest to his arraignment. Smith suggested that if it could be proved that he was denied access to legal counsel, Wayne's confessions "might be rendered inadmissible in a trial." It would prove to be a difficult obstacle for the prosecution to overcome.

A new serial killer law was enacted approximately two months after Wayne's arrest, which allowed prosecutors the right to combine all of the murders into a single trial if they could d prove that they were related. Thus, instead of Wayne being tried for each murder separately in different counties, he would have just one trial for all four murders. Whether the law was constitutionally applicable to Wayne's case was a controversial matter because it was enacted a considerable amount of time after the crimes were actually committed. It was another issue that Robinson wanted to argue.

On April 6, 1999, Wayne was indicted by a Humboldt County grand jury on a single count of murder. However, he would not be tried in Humboldt because that June, a final decision was made to have Wayne arrested and charged in San Bernardino County for the murders of all four victims. The defense team lost their first battle and faced the prospect of Wayne getting the death penalty. That August, he was transferred to West Valley Detention Center in San Bernardino County to await his upcoming trial.

In November 2003, a hearing was held at San Bernardino County Superior Court to determine whether Wayne's confessions to police were admissible in court. According to Tim Grenda's article Defense Battles to Bar Confession, the defense team, led by attorney Joseph D. Canty, argued that the confessions were, "the result of unreasonable police actions in the hours and days after Ford surrendered." However, the prosecution maintained that the confessions were legally obtained and that Ford initially asked for an attorney but later changed his mind.

Superior Court Judge Michael Smith ruled in January 2004 that most of Wayne's confessions were admissible at trial. Yet, those made after November 5, 1998, three days after Wayne turned himself in, could not be used by the prosecution because the police should have allowed him legal counsel by then. Tim Grenda stated in a January 2004 article that the judge's ruling meant that Wayne's confessions regarding Lanette White, which were made on the third day of questioning, were jeopardized. Nevertheless, the prosecution decided that they would likely include the murder charge concerning White at trial because there was adequate evidence linking Wayne to her death.

Almost six years after Wayne's arrest, the murder trial still had not begun because of delays in the legal system. The trial date had been moved up on several occasions and was finally scheduled to commence on March 1, 2004. However, it was stalled once again in mid-January 2004 because the lead prosecuting attorney handling the case, Deputy District Attorney David Whitney, retired from his position.

Deputy District Attorney Dave Mazurek was chosen to replace Whitney and lead the case against Wayne. In Ben Goad's article Retirement Delays Murder Trial, Canty was quoted saying that the commencement of the trial, "will depend on how much time Mazurek needs to become familiar with the case." Goad suggested that the trial could be pushed up to the fall of 2004 or later.

In the meantime, Wayne's future hangs in the balance. If he is found guilty, he could face the death penalty. At the time of his arrest, Wayne allegedly told family members that he'd rather be sentenced to death. If the prosecution has its way, he just might get his wish.

 

Categories
Advertisement