|For Immediate Release
Case # 04HF1842
November 1, 2007
RETIRED MARINE CONVICTED OF TORTURING AND MURDERING WIFE IN THEIR IRVINE HOME
SANTA ANA – A retired Marine Corps Sergeant was convicted today of the special circumstances murder of his wife for torturing and killing her in their Irvine home. James Herbert Speights, 50, faces a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole at his sentencing on December 7, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-30 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
On November 30, 2004, Speights, who learned that his wife was planning to leave him for another man, meticulously assembled a series of torture and restraint devices including chains, ankle cuffs, plastic ties, mace, and a 300,000 volt stun gun. He chained the victim, Jeselinda Zill, to the bed and tortured her with the stun gun. Speights then murdered his wife by strangling her with a plastic tie.
After strangling the victim to death, the defendant called a pastor friend in Riverside and told him that he had killed his wife. The friend contacted police, who found the murdered victim on the floor of the bedroom wrapped in blankets. Speights, who attempted suicide after the murder, was found by police semi-conscious in an Anaheim parking lot.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.