SANTA ANA, Calif. » More than a quarter-century after the killing, a man from Hawaii was convicted Tuesday of murdering the famously flamboyant owner of a Southern California topless nightclub.
A jury deliberated for less than a day before finding Richard C. Morris II guilty of the murder of Jimmy Casino, one of Orange County’s best known unsolved killings.
Morris, 59, of Pearl City, was also found guilty of the special circumstances of murder for financial gain, murder during the commission of a robbery and murder during the commission of a rape, the Orange County Register reported.
He could get life in prison with no possibility of parole at his June sentencing.
Casino, whose real name was James Stockwell, lived a lavish lifestyle as owner of the lucrative Mustang Topless Theater, but was also deep in debt, and his club was slowly overtaken by organized crime, police and prosecutors said. His was the first in a series of mob-style executions linked to the theater.
Prosecutors said Morris was one of two intruders who in 1987 ransacked Casino’s Buena Park condo, raped his 22-year-old girlfriend, shot him in the back of a head with a silencer-equipped handgun and left with money, jewelry, furs and two luxury cars.
“This is a testament to investigators who continued to investigate a cold case years after most people think the case is forgotten,” Deputy District Attorney Michael Murray said after the conviction. “Many people think that if you have a victim who’s different than the mainstream, people get the misimpression that law enforcement will not work as hard. Jimmy Casino was a colorful guy. He was also a father, husband and a businessman.”
Morris was arrested in Honolulu in 2008 after investigators matched a DNA sample from the rape of Casino’s girlfriend to a sample Morris submitted for an unrelated case in Hawaii. He was not charged with the rape because the statute of limitations had expired.