"I looked at my hand and I couldn't see it, just the blood spurting out. Then I saw the ax swinging down at my left hand. I started to pull it away but he had a hold of my hand. He chopped it three times. I thought I was going to die." Mary Vincent, rape victim.
Merchant seaman Lawrence Singleton, accused of kidnapping and raping a 15-year-old hitchhiker and then hacking off her arms with an ax, was convicted of seven charges against him.
Mary Bell Vincent of Las Vegas, Nev, who survived the attack and testified against the defendant, did not register any emotion as the verdicts were read. Her mother sat beside her in the courtroom, holding the hook of her artificial arm.
Superior Court Judge Earl Maas said that under the state's determinate sentencing law, the maximum sentence for Singleton would be about 14 years and three months.
Singleton, who has homes in San Pablo, Calif., and Sparks, Nev., was convicted of a total of seven counts of attempted murder in the first degree, kidnapping, rape, sodomy, forced oral copulation and mayhem.
The jury, which reached the verdicts after 12 hours of deliberations covering three days, did not find that Singleton had used a deadly weapon in the course of the kidnapping. If Singleton had been convicted on that charge, they could have given him the death penalty.
Miss Vincent testified that Singleton picked her up while she was hitchhiking in the San Francisco area last Sept. 29 and promised to take her to a freeway in Sacramento where she would continue her trip to visit her grandfather in Corona.
Singleton did not testify in his own behalf but in the tape played at the trial said he had picked up two other male hitchhikers along with Miss Vincent, who had agreed to have sex with him as one of the hitchhikers drove.
The defendant said he had been drinking and passed out, but when he awoke, the girl was gone and only the tw0 male hitchhikers remained.
Miss Vincent, however, testified there were no other hitchhikers. She said she fell asleep while traveling with Singleton and when she awoke; they were traveling in the wrong direction. The prosecution said Singleton pulled off a road in Stanislaus County, tied the girl up, raped and sodomized her and forced her to perform oral copulation on him. He drove on and then repeated the forced acts at another remote location.
Miss Vincent testified Singleton then chopped her arms off with an ax and dumped her in a culvert to die.
The Fresno Bee (24 March 1979)
Prostitute killer Singleton dies of cancer at age 74
"Lawrence Singleton died in his jail cell today, lonely and alone and despised." John Skye, defense attorney.
Lawrence Singleton. who chopped off a teen-age hitch- hiker's forearms in California and was later sent to death row in Florida for killing a prostitute, has died of cancer behind bars at age 74.
Singleton died Friday at the North Florida Reception Center in Starke, prison officials said Monday. He had been on death row since for the 1997 murder of Roxanne Hayes, the mother of three. No execution date had been set.
"He. had a deeply ingrained hatred and dislike hatred and dislike of women," said Assistant Attorney General Browne, who represented the state Scott in Singleton's appeal of his death sentence. Florida Supreme Court upheld the sentence last year, rejecting the claim he didn't get a fair trial because of notoriety from the California crime.
In 1978, Singleton raped 15-year-old Mary Vincent, cut off her fore- arms and left her to die. In a decision that caused a furor in California, the retired merchant marine seaman was paroled in 1987 after serving eight years.
Outraged California communities refused to accept him, and authorities housed him in a mobile home at San Quentin Prison until his parole was up in 1988.
While Vincent went into hiding, Singleton's release prompted reforms in California's sentencing law, which lead to longer sentences for violent criminals.
"She had a constant fear of her life from Lawrence Singleton," said Mark E. Edwards, the California attorney who represented Vincent until several years ago."
Singleton eventually came to Tampa, where he had spent his childhood. Here, residents also protested, and a car dealer offered him $5,000 to leave the state. A homemade bomb was detonated near the house, but nobody was injured. Singleton was no stranger to Tampa's criminal justice system. He was arrested for stealing a $10 camera from a drugstore in 1990 and months later again for stealing a $3 hat from a Walmart.
Days before Hayes was slain, Singleton tried to kill himself by hooking a hose to an exhaust pipe. Neighbors saw the suicide attempt and stopped him.
A painter arriving to do work at Singleton's house in February 1997 alerted police when he saw Singleton standing over Hayes, his chest and face covered with blood. His case certainly demonstrates the frightening capacity for evil that people have," said Assistant Hillsborough County State Attorney Jay Pruner, who prosecuted Singleton on the murder charge.
"You just have to wonder what drives an individual to commit such a crime and then recommit again at such an old age."
Vincent volunteered to come out of hiding to testify in the death penalty phase of Singleton's trial. Pruner said she was still so traumatized from the attack that the mere mention of Singleton's name would cause her to freeze up.
But in a dramatic moment on the stand, Vincent pointed an artificial limb at her attacker and identified him to the jury.
"She showed an incredible strength and courage during the testimony", Pruner said.
Singleton had long denied raping and mutilating Vincent, but he admitted stabbing Hayes.
T'm sorry about the death in this case, he told the judge as he was sentenced to death. "Il have to carry it on my conscience the rest of my life. At the time, defense attorney John Skye had asked jurors to for go the death penalty in favor of a sentence of life in prison.
"Rather than hearing a news story about how the state of Florida fried Lawrence Singleton, we can hear a story like this: Lawrence Singleton died in his jail cell today, lonely and alone and despised," Skye said.
Pensacola News Journal (01 Jan. 2002)