Man sentenced to death for killing women


Prosecutor Jim Meehan said Tuesday that Anthony McKnight, 54, is "a sociopath" and said McKnight laughed when Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner sentenced him at the conclusion of a daylong hearing on Monday.

Jurors on Sept. 17 convicted McKnight, a former Navy-enlisted man who was assigned to the Alameda Naval Air Station, of five counts of first-degree murder and found him guilty of five special circumstances.

Three of the special circumstances were for committing murder during the course of a rape, one was for committing murder during sodomy and one was for committing multiple murders.

On Oct. 20, at the end of the penalty phase of McKnight's trial, the same jurors recommended the death penalty.

McKnight testified during his trial that he never met any of the women who were killed.

Horner spent nearly an hour listing the reasons why he thinks there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's finding that the aggravating evidence outweighed the mitigating evidence and that the death penalty is the appropriate punishment for McKnight, Meehan said.

Before being convicted of murdering the five women, McKnight was already serving a 63-year term in state prison for his 1987 conviction on 11 felony counts, including attempted murder, mayhem, kidnapping and forced oral copulation, for attacks on six prostitutes between 1984 and his arrest in January 1986.

After he began serving his prison sentence, authorities used new DNA analysis techniques to connect McKnight to the murders in his current case, which occurred in secluded locations in Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley and Richmond between September and December 2005.

The women McKnight was convicted of killing are Diane Stone, 17; Talita Dixon, 13; Monique Franchone Davis, 18; Beverly Ann Bryant, 24; and Betty Lynn Stuart, 22.

Meehan said nine of the women's family members and friends spoke at McKnight's sentencing and said they believe he deserves the death penalty.

Before Horner sentenced McKnight, he denied two motions for a new trial that were filed and argued by McKnight's lawyers.

All death penalty sentencings are automatically reviewed by the California Supreme Court.

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