Tag Archive for: Cold Case Unit

Sentencing in 1987 Cold Case Murder

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that a Poway man has been sentenced to 25 years-to-life for murdering a young woman in Carlsbad more than 35 years ago. Julia Hernandez-Santiago’s body was found on an ivy-covered embankment on Alga Road on Oct. 10, 1987. She was killed while walking home from a doctor’s appointment and was 26 years old at the time.

James Charles Kingery, 57, was found guilty by a jury last month of first-degree murder and rape charges. At the time of the murder, the San Diego County Medical Examiner determined the victim had been strangled. No suspect was identified at the time of the killing, but DNA collected from the crime scene led to Kingery’s arrest more than three decades later.

“The victim’s loved ones had their lives shattered by this horrific murder and have waited more than three decades for justice and some closure. Today they have it,” said DA Stephan. “This case highlights the important work done by our Cold Case Homicide Unit and the commitment of law enforcement in our region to solve murder cases no matter how much time has passed. I want to thank the prosecution team led by DDA Lisa Fox, the Carlsbad Police and Sheriff’s Department and their Crime Laboratory which working together solved this case.”

Kingery became a suspect after sheriff’s deputies arrested him in March of 2020 on drug and weapons violations. The felony arrest meant Kingery had to supply a DNA sample. Two months later, the sheriff’s crime lab notified Carlsbad police that Kingery’s DNA matched samples collected in 1987 during the homicide investigation. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Lisa Fox.

“It is important to recognize the tenaciousness of the Carlsbad Police Investigators over the years that never let this murder be forgotten,” said Carlsbad Police Chief Mickey Williams. “I also want to recognize and thank our partners at the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department which made the successful resolution of this tragic investigation come to fruition.  Lastly, I would like to share my condolences with the family of Ms. Julia Hernandez-Santiago who was taken from them way too soon.”

The DA’s Cold Case Homicide Division, , promotes public safety by working with local law enforcement to resolve unsolved homicides within San Diego County. The division works diligently and collaboratively with law enforcement agencies, including police laboratory criminalists. These partnerships are key to solving and successfully prosecuting cases where the trail has gone cold for years. The Cold Case Division mantra is “not forgotten.” 

Since it was established in 2003, the Cold Case Homicide Division has played a role in solving and prosecuting numerous murders. The victims have come from all walks of life and from all areas of the county. The victims have included children and the elderly.

Defendant Sentenced to Prison in 1974 National City Cold Case Murder

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that Carlin Cornett, 70, was sentenced to five years-to-life in prison on June 7, for the 1974 murder of Christy Bryant, a former Marine and 7-Eleven clerk. Bryant was stabbed more than 30 times in the back room of the store during her night shift in National City.

“When a murder is unsolved for decades, it takes an enormous toll on the victim’s loved ones, but now the family of Christy Bryant have a measure of justice after many years of mourning their loss,” DA Stephan said. “I am grateful to our Cold Case Unit and detectives in the National City Police Department who worked tirelessly on this case until it was solved, and the killer was brought to justice.”

The case was a priority for National City Police.

“The National City Police Department would like to thank every law enforcement agency that assisted us with this investigation,” said National City Police Chief Jose Tellez. “This collaboration led to the arrest and conviction of a dangerous murder suspect. The exemplary work performed on this nearly 50-year-old case highlights the National City Police Department’s unwavering commitment to solve cases and to hopefully give families of victims a sense of closure and justice.”

Cornett pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on April 26. In 1974, the punishment under the law for second-degree murder was five years to life in prison.

The case was solved with the DA’s Cold Case Homicide Unit working in collaboration with the National City Police Department, which exhausted every lead and never gave up. Their work was possible through the grant-funded Cold Homicide and Research Genealogy Effort, (CHARGE) which applies investigative genetic genealogy to cold case homicides led by the DA’s resident genealogist Deputy District Attorney Laura Tanney.

On July 31, 1974, Bryant was working the overnight shift at the 7-Eleven on Highland Avenue in National City when she was attacked. After being stabbed more than 30 times, she died at the scene. During the struggle, the defendant cut himself with the knife and left a blood trail as he fled the store. The blood was unidentified for almost 50 years until the National City Police Department in collaboration with CHARGE applied the new tool of investigative genetic genealogy to the unidentified blood. An investigative lead was generated, and the defendant was ultimately identified as the attacker through a standard DNA test.

The District Attorney’s Office commended the National City police department for their outstanding investigative work on this case over the many years it was unsolved, especially retired detectives Raymond Estrada and David Bavencoff, and current Sgt. Mark Segal.  

This case was prosecuted by the team leader of the DA’s Cold Case Homicide Unit, Deputy District Attorney Chris Lindberg.