A transient was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for gunning down a man at an Anaheim motel and kidnapping an ex-girlfriend before spending a week holding the woman against her will while on the run from police.
An Orange County Superior Court jury three years ago found Luke Lampers, 41, guilty of the 2017 killing of 49-year-old Douglas Navarro and determined the slaying also took place during the kidnapping of Lampers’ estranged girlfriend, Brianne Deese.
In a written statement read by a prosecutor during a Friday morning sentencing hearing in a Santa Ana courtroom, Navarro’s mother described watching her only son being gunned down and spending a week hiding in fear as police searched for Lampers.
“Maybe now I can come to terms with it,” Linda Navarro wrote in her statement. “I miss my son every day. The hurt never goes away.”
Lampers opted not to address Orange County Superior Court Judge Patrick H. Donahue prior to his sentencing.
In trial briefs filed with the court, prosecutors described Lampers as a “jealous, controlling and possessive” boyfriend who on one occasion pointed a pistol at Deese during a heated argument. Deese left Lampers about a week prior to the kidnapping, and he had spent the time “obsessively” calling and texting her and trying to find out where she was staying, prosecutors wrote.
On the evening of Jan. 11, Lampers found the room Deese was staying in at the Crystal Inn, a motel on Lincoln Avenue near Brookhurst Street. According to court records, Lampers kicked the room door open, kicked open a bathroom door, pointed a pistol at Deese and yelled “We’re leaving,” and dragged his ex-girlfriend by her hair to his car.
On the way to a Cerritos apartment, Deese convinced Lampers to go back to the Crystal Inn so that she could retrieve her cell phone and makeup bag, according to court filings. By the time they arrived back at the motel a half hour after the initial break-in, a crowd had apparently gathered by the broken door, including Navarro and his mother.
The group refused to let Lampers into the motel room since it didn’t belong to him, but apparently allowed Deese to go into the room. In the midst of the confrontation, Deese allegedly told members of the crowd that she didn’t want to leave with Lampers.
Lampers got increasingly agitated, according to prosecutors, and waved a semi-automatic pistol around. When Navarro told him he needed to leave, that he should put the gun away and that he wasn’t going to take Deese, Lampers responded by shooting Navarro in the chest, according to prosecutors.
In previous court filings, attorneys representing Lampers claimed he acted in self-defense. Describing Navarro as a “career criminal,” the previous defense filings alleged that Navarro had watched the initial kidnapping and done nothing. When Lampers returned, the same defense filings alleged that Navarro got a “facsimile weapon” from his car and tried to rob Lampers of $200.
After the shooting, Lampers again forced Deese out of the motel room and into his vehicle, allegedly telling her “You made me murder somebody.”
While on the run, Lampers brought Deese to motels in the Los Angeles area and then San Diego. Deese later told authorities that she was afraid to escape because Lampers was threatening to kill her or her family, adding that he had spoken of crossing the border into Mexico.
According to court records, Deese was eventually able to tell a drug dealer Lampers was buying heroin from about the kidnapping and killing, and the dealer reached out to Deese’s family to inform them she was in San Diego. The week-long manhunt ended with police shooting and injuring Lampers as he ran from a motel in Old Town San Diego.