|For Immediate Release
Case # 10ZF0087
June 13, 2014
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
Cell: 714-292-2718Farrah Emami
MAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR EXECUTION-STYLE DOUBLE MURDER OF STANTON SALES ASSOCIATE AND SECRETARY
SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced to the death penalty today for the double-murder of a Stanton sales associate and his longtime secretary. Hilbert Pineil Thomas, 43, Garden Grove, was found guilty by a jury Feb. 11, 2014, of two felony counts of special circumstances murder for multiple murders, murder during the commission of robbery, and murder during the commission of burglary. He was also found guilty of one felony count each of second degree robbery, second degree commercial burglary, and the unlawful taking of a vehicle. The jury recommended the death penalty on March 12, 2014.
On the morning of Feb. 2, 2009, Thomas walked past Golden Sun Homes business office on Beach Boulevard in Stanton while taking his niece to school. He lived approximately 500 feet from the business. The defendant decided to murder the employees inside in order to steal a car belonging to a secretary for the business.
After dropping off his niece, Thomas entered Golden Sun Homes and shot and murdered Matthew Francis Scott, a sales associate and son of the business co-owner, and long-time secretary Elizabeth Ann Palmer. Both victims were shot execution-style in the head. Thomas then stole Palmer’s Lexus sedan and fled the scene.
The murders were investigated by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), but a defendant was not immediately identified. In an unrelated case, Thomas was served with a protective order by OCSD on Oct. 13, 2009, barring him from having contact with his ex-wife after having set her car on fire in Los Angeles County. As a term of the protective order, Thomas was ordered to turn over all of his firearms to law enforcement.
On Oct. 24, 2009, after months of searching for Palmer’s vehicle, police found the stolen Lexus parked at the El Dorado Inn on Lincoln Avenue in Anaheim. On Oct. 26, 2009, Thomas turned over a firearm to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) to comply with the protective order.
On Oct. 28, 2009, OCSD determined that Thomas had been in possession of the stolen vehicle and began investigating him for the murders of Scott and Palmer. An investigation into Thomas’ background showed that he had recently been contacted by LASD. Thomas had turned over the firearm used in the Orange County murders to LASD.
At the sentencing today, Scott’s father addressed the court and statements were read by the People on behalf of Palmer’s husband and sister. The Palmer’s sister, Patricia Moore’s, letter read in part, “I have spent over five years wondering what I would say to you when I had the chance. No words can change the outcome of what you’ve done. I have prayed for the courage to say these words, ‘I forgive you. Not so you can feel better but so my family, Matt’s family, your family and I can heal and move forward.’ May God have mercy on you. It’s what’s Beth would have wanted.”