Man pleads not guilty after confessing in courtroom outburst

January 18, 2013 10:20:00 PM PST
One week after he confessed to killing his mother in an emotional courtroom outburst, former death row inmate and double murderer Dennis Stanworth was back before a judge to enter a plea Friday. This time, Stanworth stayed mostly quiet.

Stanworth, 70, entered a not guilty plea to the murder of 90-year-old Nellie Stanworth at his Vallejo home.

"It's a standard plea in any case, a not guilty plea so that's what he entered today," Solano County prosecutor Karen Jensen said.

Jensen says Nellie Stanworth was likely killed in early november. Jensen wouldn't say how the elderly woman died...only that the autopsy revealed it was definitely murder.

Jensen says it does not appear Stanworth's wife Celia knew anything about Nellie's death, even though the woman's body had apparently been on their property for some time.

Stanworth spent seven years on death row for killing two Bay Area teenagers in 1966 and for a series of kidnappings and rapes before and after. In the 70s, California overturned the death penalty and Stanworth was eventually paroled in 1990 for good behavior.

Last week in court, a tearful wheelchair-bound Stanworth blurted "I plead guilty to everything. I did everything. This is the third one."

This time, he was said little, except to ask for a special device for the hard of hearing.

Nonetheless, his prior outburst may come back to haunt the convicted killer.

"It's something that can be used against him; any of his statements can be used against him, so ultimately it's something we can use if we need to," Jensen said.

Stanworth will be back in court for another hearing here next month.


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