An Orange County, Calif. jury recommended death Wednesday for serial killer Steven Dean Gordon for killing four women while wearing an electronic monitoring device due to his status as a sex offender.
“It was appropriate,” Orange County Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin tells PEOPLE about the recommendation. “I was pleased that the jury came down on the side I thought was just. He is a narcissistic, controlling, homicidal sociopath.”
The decision didn’t come as a big surprise to 47-year-old Gordon, who told jurors after he was found guilty on Dec. 15 of the special-circumstances murder and rape that they made the right decision.
“If you kill four people like this in cold blood you deserve to die,” Gordon told the jurors during his closing argument, the Orange County Register reports.
Gordon, who represented himself during the capital murder trial, was convicted in the deaths of slayings of Kianna Jackson, 20, Josephine Vargas, 34, Martha Anaya, 28, and 21-year-old Jarrae Estepp.
Gordon was wearing a GPS tracking device when he and registered sex offender Frank Cano, also wearing a GPS anklet, allegedly sexually assaulted and murdered the four women and dumped their bodies in trash bins. The killings took place in 2013 and 2014.
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The duo, who authorities say lived in a transient camp in the back of a paint and body shop in Anaheim and in Gordon’s Toyota 4Runner, allegedly picked up the women at known prostitution haunts in Santa Ana and Anaheim, California.
“They were both on parole with the same parole officer for similar crimes and they became friends,” says Yellin.
GPS Monitors Led to Apprehension of Suspects
Yellin says Gordon and Cano were finally caught after police began investigating the murder of Estepp, who was found on a conveyor belt at a recycling plant in Anaheim.
“When they were looking at that murder, they looked at the GPS coordinates for anybody who was at the place of her last phone call, which we knew was on March 13, 2014,” he says. “The only person whose coordinates showed up was Cano’s. He became the first subject.”
Yellin says authorities zeroed in on Gordon after they started tailing Cano.
“[Authorities] started seeing [Gordon and Cano] knew each other, and were spending a lot of time together, as they were starting to tail Cano,” Yellin says.
Referring to Gordon, Yellin says, “There is this guy who is always around, and so they do background on him and see he was also a sex offender. And he had been on a GPS monitor during the time of our first two crimes, so when they go back to check those they realize he and Cano’s tracks match identically. So then they think maybe they have two serial killers.”
Police said Gordon confessed to the gruesome slayings and described how he and Cano allegedly picked up each woman and killed them.
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In one of the cases, Gordon allegedly told police that Cano was hiding in the backseat of Gordon’s Toyota 4Runner when they picked up Jackson, took her to a paint and body shop in Anaheim and sexually assaulted her and killed her on October 6, 2013.
Gordon allegedly said they killed her because their GPS bracelets put them at the crime scene, according to the Orange County Register. According to court documents obtained by the paper, Cano and Gordon allegedly debated killing Estepp before going through with it.
Gordon took the stand earlier this week and told the jury that it was Cano who strangled the women — but said he was also to blame.
“I’m just as responsible for what happened to these five girls as my co-defendant,” Gordon told the jurors, the Register reports. “Even though I changed my mind with the last girl, the fact that it still happened means I have to be held accountable.”
“I believe they are equally culpable,” alleges Yellin. “I believe that if there is a division of labor between the two of them Gordon is more of the planner and Cano is more of the actor. I believe they both participated at a high level.”
Alleged Killer Duo ‘Incredibly Rare’: Prosecutor
The bodies of the other victims have not been found, but authorities suspect they were killed at the paint and body shop, dumped in trash bins and are now in landfills.
During the trial, Gordon also argued that the killings could have been prevented if authorities had kept a closer eye on the pair.
“He was very angry and accusatory of [authorities’] failings,” says Yellin. “They are responsible for their murders and I am not going to absolve them of any responsibility and lay it at the feet of anyone else.”
Cano, 30, who also faces the death penalty, has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Dec. 29. His trial date has not been set. He has pleaded not guilty.
Gordon is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 3.
“It is incredibly rare,” says Yellin about the duo’s alleged spree. “I was shocked we had one and I was fall-over shocked that we had two.”