Jurors recommended Friday that a Riverside man convicted of shooting his former girlfriend and then lighting her on fire in front of her six children should be put to death.
It took jurors less than a day to recommend the death penalty for 41-year-old Tyrone Harts in the murder of Brandi Morales in 2011, according to a news release from the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
In October, Harts was convicted of one count each of murder and attempted murder, as well as five counts of felony child endangerment and one count of being a felon in possession of a handgun.
Jurors also found to be true a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, making Harts eligible for the death penalty.
Morales was shot in the early morning hours of Feb, 12, 2011 in the Moreno Valley home she shared with her six children who, at the time of her murder, ranged in age from 6 to 15.
Harts previously lived at the house with the Morales family but the couple had recently broken off their relationship, the release stated.
On the night of the murder, Harts called the home and spoke to each of the children, telling one of them to leave a sliding glass door unlocked, prosecutors said.
Around 12:30 a.m. the two oldest children were awakened by their mother’s screams coming from her upstairs bedroom. The oldest boy grabbed a knife from the kitchen, went to see what was wrong, and saw his mother being held down, court records indicate.
Harts then pulled out a handgun and fired at the boy who then ran downstairs, prosecutors said.
The shots woke up the other four children who then witnessed their mother being lit on fire by the attacker.
The children started filling cups with water in an attempt to put out the fire, according to the DA’s Office.
But the time police and fire personnel arrived at the home, Morales was already dead.
An autopsy showed she had been shot in the torso and suffered first and second-degree burns over 50 to 60 percent of her body.
Harts was due back in court on Jan. 30, 2015, to be formally sentenced.