A prosecutor said that Carey Lamont Reid Jr. cried and confessed to murdering a 77-year-old Oceanside man, and then he wrote an apology letter to the widow.
Prosecutor Keith Watanabe spoke at the arraignment of Reid, now 21, who pleaded not-guilty to murdering John Anthony Roth. Special circumstances of murder-during-residential-burglary have been charged, which makes this case eligible for the death penalty.
It was August 14, when the elderly man was killed in his own home.
The elderly man was found on his couch, with stab wounds in his neck, in his three-story home in the 500 block of North Tremont Street. The victim’s wife, Zui Pang, 41, discovered her husband about 6 am that Tuesday, when she came home from her night work at a nursing home, police said.
The suspect was found last Sunday, October 21, after a caller reported seeing a “transient” sleeping in a parking lot. One of the responding Oceanside police officers happened to be detective Erik Ellgard, who is the lead investigator for the murder case. Reid was arrested at 515 North Coast Highway, across an alley from the crime scene.
Prosecutor Watanabe complained that it took the San Diego County Sheriff’s crime lab two months to come up with a DNA profile from a soda can that was found at the crime scene. When the DNA profile was put into the law enforcement search engine CODIS, it quickly matched a suspect from South Carolina, according to Watanabe. The murder suspect Carey Reid Jr. was found and arrested two days after his DNA was identified.
Prosecutor Watanabe said Reid is guilty of a “hot prowl” because he got away with loot stolen from an occupied home; the stolen articles allegedly included a purse and jewelry and valuable Chinese coins dating from the Ming dynasty.
The murder occurred three weeks before Reid turned 21. The defendant looks younger than his years, jail records describe him as 5 feet 7 inches tall and 130 pounds.
The prosecutor said that in his confession to investigators, Reid told officers he regretted his crime, admitting it was “stupid” and done in “anger.”
The widow Pang spoke to local news cameras after the court hearing. In a soft voice she praised her husband as a good, hardworking man. Watanabe mentioned that Pang met her future husband in China.
At the arraignment on Wednesday, October 24, the defendant was declared a danger to the community and a flight risk, and judge James E. Simmons Jr. ordered him held without bail.