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Death penalty sought in 1998 pregnant murder, sexual assault case

March 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Jurors reached a verdict Friday in the penalty phase of the murder trial of Jason Balcom, convicted of sexually assaulting and killing a pregnant 22-year-old woman in 1998. After deliberating, the jury recommended the death penalty for Balcom.

The 42-year-old suspect was convicted of one felony count of special circumstances murder in the commission of rape, sodomy, robbery, and burglary in 2012 through DNA.

On July 18, 1998, Balcom reportedly entered Malinda Gibbons' home which she shared with her husband, identified as Kent Gibbons. The victim, who was between four and six weeks pregnant, had stayed home to unpack their new apartment.

The suspect broke into the home and bound Malinda's hands and feet using neck ties. He then raped and murdered her by stabbing her in the chest.

According to detectives, Balcom also stole the victim's purse and wedding ring from her finger before fleeing the scene.

In 1999, a DNA test was conducted on semen found on the victim's carpet and on an anal swab recovered from Malinda Gibbons using DNA technology not available in 1998. The unknown suspect's DNA profile was uploaded into the national database.

In 2004, Balcom was sentenced to a 30 to 50 year prison sentence following a rape conviction in Michigan. His DNA was entered into the national database pending that conviction and was linked to the murder of Malinda Gibbons on April 16, 2004.

The defendant was transported from Michigan to Orange County to face additional charges in 2004.

A mistrial had been declared in a previous penalty phase trial held on March 27, 2012.

Balcom is scheduled to be sentenced on June, 14, 2013 in Santa Ana.