By Kent Gray
Triplicate staff writer
There were hugs and tears yesterday in Del Norte County Superior Court after a jury found Robert Allen Wigley guilty of first-degree murder.
It took the eight-woman, four-man jury just 22 minutes to decide that Wigley acted alone when he raped, tortured, murdered and then mutilated the body of 18-year-old Camillia Randall in October of 1994.
He was also found guilty of solicitation of murder for a 2002 jail-escape plan.
The verdicts were announced four hours after the jury began its deliberations.
Sentencing is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Nov. 20. Wigley is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for Randall's murder, one of the most grisly crimes in Crescent City's history. He also faces an additional sentence of up to 10 years in prison for the other charges.
Yesterday's verdicts marked the end of one of the longest criminal trials ever in Del Norte County. The trial began on Sept. 8.
Wigley showed little emotion when he stood and heard the jury's decision.
Randall's family members, who have been in court throughout the eight weeks of the trial, wept openly when the murder verdict was read.
"We have closure. Cammie can rest better knowing that man was put away," said Marjorie Reynolds, Randall's mother. "The only thing that went wrong today is we didn't get her back."
District Attorney Mike Riese, who prosecuted the case, appeared happy but exhausted after leaving the courtroom.
"I'm ecstatic that it's finally over," Riese said yesterday. "I'm incredibly grateful the jury with all their patience returned the verdict that they did on all counts."
Randall, who grew up in Longview, Wash., was hitchhiking through Crescent City on her way from Ashland, Ore., to Guerneville, Calif., when she was killed.
According to testimony during the trial, Wigley and Randall crossed paths on Oct. 26, 1994. The teen-ager was murdered either that night or in the early morning hours of Oct. 27.
Throughout the trial, Wigley, who acted as his own attorney, tried to place the blame for Randall's death on his former wife. But he admitted he dumped Randall's body in Stout Grove before dawn on Oct. 27.
When Randall's body was recovered on Oct. 30, investigators found that her chest had been cut open and that her heart and lung had been removed.
Although he was never a suspect during the initial murder investigation, Wigley was arrested in November 2001 after his DNA was matched to semen found with Randall's body.
A sample of Wigley's DNA was taken in 1999 after he pleaded no contest to sexual battery in Del Norte County. That sample was then sent to the California Department of Justice's DNA laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. and kept on file. Through periodic random comparisons of DNA profiles and DNA evidence from unsolved crimes, the department established a "cold hit" in 2001 linking Wigley with Randall's murder.
The murder charge carried special allegations of rape, torture and forced oral copulation. The jury's concurrence on these allegations may extend the length of Wigley's sentence.
The second charge, for solicitation of murder, was for a foiled July 2002 jail escape plan that would have involved the killing of bailiff.
Jurors said that although they were pretty much in agreement about Wigley's guilt on that count, there were some interpretation problems about jury rules that slowed deliberations.
Riese said he was pleased with the verdicts.
"It gives me a great amount of solace and comfort to give this family some closure to finally put Cammie's memory at peace," he said.
"Of course I couldn't have done this without the extremely hard work of investigator A.C. Field, the trust of the family, the endeavors of Bill Steven and Gene McManus (of the Del Norte County Sheriff's Department) and even the early work of former-District Attorney Bob Drossel. And, certainly, the patience of this jury," Riese said.