Jury convicts man who stole from La Jolla investor before killing him


City News Service

A financial adviser who strangled a retired multi-millionare, then transferred $8.9 million from the victim’s bank account was convicted today of first-degree murder.

Special circumstance allegations of murder for financial gain and murder during a robbery against 60-year-old Kent Thomas Keigwin were found to be true, so he faces life in prison without parole when he is sentenced by Judge Frederic Link on Jan. 20.

Keigwin, who killed 65-year-old retired biotech executive John Watson on June 8, 2010, also was found guilty by a seven-man, five-woman jury of using the personal identity of another, burglary, forgery and attempted grand theft.

In her closing argument, prosecutor Sharla Evert said Keigwin tasered the victim at the front door of his La Jolla apartment, then strangled him. Keigwin’s DNA was found under Watson’s fingernails, the prosecutor said.

Keigwin — who had been friends with the victim — was seen in the area of Watson’s home on the day Watson was found dead, Evert said.

The next day, Keigwin transferred $8.9 million from one of Watson’s investment accounts into a new account that he opened in the victim’s name, Evert alleged.

Keigwin also put his passport, Social Security card and transfer codes for bank accounts in a safety deposit box, according to the prosecutor.

Three days later, on June 11, Keigwin came back to Watson’s residence with the victim’s keys — dressed all in black and carrying an empty backpack — and was arrested by homicide detectives investigating Watson’s death, Evert said.

Defense attorney Stacy Gulley said the case was about theft and Watson died after an “all-out fight” with Keigwin.

Gulley said the defendant had no motive to kill the victim.

“You don’t know what happened in that apartment,” Gulley told the jury.