INMATE GETS 57 YEARS FOR '02 SLAYING MAN KILLED, BURNED IN CAR.
LANCASTER - A state prison inmate faces 57 years in prison for the January 2002 slaying of a Palmdale man who was shot to death and his body burned in a stolen car.
Tommy Lee Wickerd, 38, was accused in the killing of Timothy Lee Carter, whose badly charred body was found in the trunk of a 1989 Toyota Camry that was set on fire late at night in a field at the western end of Avenue M.
``I think we've reached an appropriate disposition. This is a lengthy prison term. He will probably die in prison,'' Deputy District Attorney Michael Blake said. ``It also saves the families and witnesses the trauma of going through a protracted ugly trial.''
Wickerd pleaded guilty Thursday in Van Nuys Superior Court to voluntary manslaughter with enhancements for gun use, gang affiliation and having three prior prison terms after prosecutors agreed to dismiss a murder charge.
Wickerd remained in custody without bail and is set to be sentenced today. He will be required to serve 85 percent of the 57-year sentence.
``There appeared to be a personal feud between Tommy Wickerd and Carter, the victim. As far as an actual motivation at the time of the killing, we don't know,'' Blake said.
Wickerd had been behind bars since 10 days after Carter's body was found on Jan. 20, 2002.
Wickerd was arrested Jan. 30, 2002, in a stolen truck after he led sheriff's deputies on a chase around downtown Palmdale, ramming a patrol car when deputies tried to hem it into a cul-de-sac.
Convicted of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, Wickerd was sentenced to 10 years. He earlier served prison sentences for thefts, assault with a deadly weapon and making threats, records show.
Carter's body was so badly burned that DNA tests were necessary to confirm the identity, officials said.
Carter, who had lived in the Antelope Valley most of his life and has relatives in the area, was last seen alive about two days before his body was found, detectives said.
The Toyota sedan had been stolen a week earlier in Palmdale.
A deputy patrolling along Avenue M around 10 a.m. Jan. 20 spotted the gutted car, still smoldering, about a mile from the nearest housing tract, west of 75th Street West. The deputy found the body, burned beyond recognition, in the trunk.
Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744