VALLEJO — A woman who joined her boyfriend in a 2007 methamphetamine binge that culminated with a pair of “thrill-kill” homicides of two random strangers, a woman in Cordelia and a single mother of two in Dixon, was found guilty Friday of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
The jury’s verdicts capped off a two-month trial and three days of jury deliberations.
Paige Linville, 29, faces a 50-years-to life prison sentence, according to Solano County Deputy District Attorney Krishna Abrams, who prosecuted the case.
Amber L. Chappell, 34, was shot and killed in the pre-dawn hours of Nov. 16, 2007. Her body was discovered around 4 a.m. that day by a deputy sheriff who was out on patrol on Ramsey Road in Cordelia. About nine hours later, Christina Baxley, 41, was shot multiple times while walking her dog Snowy in front of her Dixon apartment.
The reading of the verdicts began with word that jurors deadlocked on the first murder charge for Chappell’s killing. Then came guilty verdicts for the Baxley murder.
Abrams’ star witness was Linville’s now former boyfriend, Mario Moreno, who took a plea deal in 2010, agreeing to testify against Linville in exchange for pleading no contest to a pair of voluntary manslaughter charges and getting a probable 32-year prison sentence.
Moreno’s testimony largely echoed what Linville described when she took her turn on the witness stand.
They both described themselves as methamphetamine dealers and daily methamphetamine users. They both used methamphetamine before and after they did an armed robbery of a Vallejo cigarette shop. A few hours later, after using more methamphetamine, they happened upon Chappell, who asked them for a ride. Moreno and Linville talked about what it would feel like to kill somebody and then they gave Chappell a ride. They drove her to the remote cul-de-sac alongside Interstate 680, where Moreno shot her in the head and upper body.
Jurors deadlocked in a 6-6 split over Chappell’s killing. Abrams said her office would decide in upcoming days whether they will seek a second trial for that murder charge.
After killing Chappell, the pair drove to Vallejo where they bought cleaning supplies at a Walmart before going to a car wash to clean their car of any evidence of Chappell. A while later they bought more ammunition and some targets and then drove to Dixon, where they took turns doing target practice before they started looking for their next victim.
During the trial, Moreno’s and Linville’s stories parted ways with Moreno claiming that Linville shot their next victim. Linville said Moreno urged her to kill somebody but, after they smoked more methamphetamine, Moreno spotted Baxley, jumped out of their car and shot her several times. She claimed she had been paralyzed with fear because of Chappell’s murder.
Jurors acquitted Linville of a felony charge of using a gun for a murder. Abrams told jurors if they decided Linville was not the shooter, she was still guilty of murder because she aided and abetted in Baxley’s murder.
Judge Allan P. Carter ordered Linville back to court for sentencing April 11. She is in jail without bail. Moreno is scheduled to be sentenced March 15.
Linville’s defense attorney Amy Morton said she intends to seek a new trial.
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