North Bay News

Man confesses to new murder in courtroom outburst

Saturday, January 12, 2013

It was a stunning moment in a Solano County courtroom Friday as a convicted double-murderer suddenly made a dramatic and surprising statement. Dennis Stanworth is charged with killing his elderly mother. He was once sentenced to death for prior crimes.

It was a very short hearing, but certainly not lacking in drama for those inside the courtroom.

A disheveled, clearly upset Stanworth was wheeled into court by bailiffs. He began to cry, complained about not being able to hear and then basically confessed.

Solano County prosecutor Karen Jensen described the sobbing double-murderer Stanworth, sitting in a wheelchair, admitting to killing his 90-year-old mother Nellie Stanworth.

"He did say, 'I plead guilty to everything, I admit everything, this is the third one,'" prosecutor Karen Jensen said. "I can tell you she was found at the defendant's house. As far as the circumstances or manner of death, the autopsy was just performed this morning so I don't have those reports yet."

Stanworth was not formally entering a plea, but his statements can be used against him at trial.

The 70-year-old Stanworth was arrested Wednesday after he called Vallejo police and told them he had killed his mother. When detectives arrived at Stanworth's gated Hiddenbrooke home, they found Nellie Stanworth's remains. According to the criminal complaint, prosecutors think Stanworth killed his mother as early as Nov. 6, 2012. Her body was found outside on the property Stanworth shares with his wife and elderly father-in-law.

His wife was in court in Fairfield, but declined comment to ABC7 News.

Stanworth's arrest and the fact that he's been living in the Bay Area as a free man for 22 years has been especially difficult for the families of the two teenage girls he was sent to death row for sexually assaulting and killing in 1966.

"I'm just devastated that this all happened," a woman who was close to Caree Collison said. Collison was one of the two teenage girls kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered by Stanworth in 1966.

The woman doesn't want her name used because she is afraid of Stanworth, but she was raised as a sister to Collison.

"I'm scared to death he's going to fall through the cracks and, and he's going to be 'best behavior' and it's going to happen again," she said. "I have no confidence at all."

According to the complaint, Stanworth is being charged with first degree murder with the special circumstance that he has murdered before. If convicted, he could receive the death penalty, a sentence he escaped 40 years ago.

Stanworth is expected back in court next week.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
murder, crime, death penalty, vallejo, north bay news, laura anthony
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