PALM DESERT, Calif. - A contract killer who was hired 25 years ago to murder his employer's romantic rival, a Palm Desert man whose remains were found buried in a Nevada streambed, was convicted Wednesday of murder.
Jurors deliberated for about three hours before returning a first-degree murder verdict and finding true a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait against Russell Huber, 59, of Oroville.
He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced Jan. 12 for killing 41-year-old Clyde Gregory Hayward, who never arrived for a date with his girlfriend on July 6, 1992. His pickup truck was found about two weeks later on Highway 95, 26 miles north of Blythe, with dried blood and two .380 shell casings found about 100 yards east of the vehicle.
Hayward's girlfriend, whose name was not disclosed, told detectives at the time that she had turned down a marriage proposal from her employer, John Nichols, and believed he was behind her boyfriend's disappearance, but there was no concrete evidence.
The prosecution alleged that after being rejected by the victim's girlfriend, Nichols arranged a fake business meeting with Hayward under the guise of securing golf carts for a development project. Hayward, a golf mechanic who previously had worked for a golf cart distributor, was killed
after he showed up to meet with Huber and Peter Boncore, a longtime associate of the defendant, according to the district attorney's office.
Huber told investigators he and Boncore were in the desert, where they "had a meeting with a guy about golf carts on behalf of Nichols,'' according to the prosecution's trial brief. Huber said they sat down at a diner.
We spoke with the mother of Hayward's two daughters over the phone Wednesday evening. She said for years her girls believed their father had abandoned them. The murder caused their family so much pain and heartache. The woman said he was a loving father, who never knew a stranger and always smiled.
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