Local News

Wednesday, Nov 27 2013 03:44 PM

Reports detail murder scene, evidence against defendant in Sept. 7 killing

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Patrick Terrel has been charged with murder, robbery and arson in the killing of his mother’s friend. In this file photo, he stands next to his attorney.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Sonya Martinez knew her boyfriend had anger issues.

The boyfriend, Patrick Edward Terrel, would sometimes lose his cool and choke her, or grab her so roughly he left bruises. The two used methamphetamine together, and Terrel had a long criminal record including burglary, hit and run, and unlawful sexual intercourse.

Still, she was stunned by his response to her asking him where he'd been Sept. 7. Terrel had returned to their home that morning and taken a shower, and Martinez thought he'd been out with another woman.

She said he told her something along the lines of, "What do you want me to tell you? I killed (Clara Basta)."

Martinez's interview with detectives was included among the more than 250 pages of redacted police reports that became available Wednesday at Kern County Superior Court. The reports also contain more details regarding the brutal killing of Basta, and statements by relatives of Terrel saying they believe he's capable of murder.

Terrel, 37, is being held without bail on charges including murder, robbery and arson. His next court hearing is scheduled for March 11.

Police say Terrel killed the 56-year-old Basta on Sept. 7 at her house in the 4200 block of Kilkenny Court in south Bakersfield where she lived with Victoria Terrel, Patrick Terrel's mother.

Victoria Terrel and Basta were a couple and had lived together since 1997. They'd known each other 31 years.

Martinez told investigators that Terrel had spoken to her before about burglarizing his mother's and Basta's house. He knew his mother was leaving Sept. 6 for an Alaskan cruise, leaving only Basta at the residence.

Terrel apparently was trying to steal from other relatives, too. Martinez said Terrel had entered his father's house a few days before Basta's killing with the intent to burglarize the residence. The father confirmed to investigators that he'd confronted his son, who had entered his home without his knowledge.

Firefighters discovered Basta's body after responding to a report of smoke coming from the house. Several small fires had been set, including in the living room and the master bedroom.

Police conducted a thorough search of the home. They found damaged items in different parts of the home, and a dead dog at the living room fireplace hearth. Some items, such as a stereo system and DVD player, were missing.

Basta's body was in the garage. Blood had spattered a green metal cabinet and items on a work bench by the south wall of the garage.

Near the work bench, Basta was lying face down in a large pool of blood, according to the reports. Her hands were bound behind her back at the wrists with thin brown twine. Her ankles were also bound, and the hands and ankles were tied together.

A rag soaked through with blood had been shoved in her mouth. Small circular black burn marks were on each of her shoulders, as if someone had placed the tip of a lit cigarette to her flesh.

The wounds to Basta's face and neck were numerous, the reports say. She suffered six or seven cuts to the back of her head, and a long perpendicular cut across her upper forehead.

A dark shoelace was wrapped tightly around her neck. An autopsy revealed small skull fractures on the rear left and right sides of her skull.

Basta's missing 2002 Dodge Intrepid was later found outside an abandoned house in east Bakersfield not far from where Martinez and Terrel lived. Officers searched the house and found several items believed connected to the murder, including a knife with dried blood on its 8-inch blade and handle, and a crowbar.

Investigators determined the knife had been taken from a butcher block knife set at Basta's residence.

Police arrested Terrel Sept. 9 on suspicion of a probation violation for possession of a controlled substance. He was incarcerated when prosecutors filed charges against him in connection with Basta's killing.

If the allegations are true, Terrel's actions resulted not only in the death of Basta, but also robbed his mother of her life partner. Police say Victoria Terrel sobbed and dropped the phone when they called to tell her Basta had been killed. She was unable to continue the conversation and had to be interviewed later.

Terrel refused to talk to investigators following his arrest. He said he wanted an attorney, but he wanted the investigators to pass a message along to his mother.

He told them to tell her he loves her.

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