San Diego

Dewan Emerson's Killer Sentenced to Life Without Possibility of Parole

Dewan Emerson, 15, was a student at Lincoln High School when he was killed

Three decades after the murder of a teenager in Valencia Park, the man who committed the crime was sentenced Monday. 

One April evening in 1987, 15-year-old Dewan Emerson told his mother he was stepping outside to speak to someone – a man he said he knew - who had stopped by their home.

That was the last conversation the two ever had.

The following morning, Emerson's body was found in a flood channel behind Naranja Street.

San Diego Police confirmed the teenager he had been sexually assaulted and strangled to death.

SDPD Cold Case Detectives and District Attorney Investigators used new technology to create a suspect DNA profile.

That led them to 56-year-old Russell Taylor, a man serving a 25-year sentence at San Quentin State Prison for a separate crime.

He has since pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

Deputy District Attorney Valerie Summers said the case brings closure to the family, decades later. 

"This case is very important in bringing closure to the family but he would also be eligible on his 200 narcotics related offense," Summers said.

In court Monday, a judge sentenced Taylor to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Under his previous conviction, Taylor was close to being eligible for parole. 

In a news release, District Attorney Summer Stephan said in part:

"The dedicated prosecutors in our cold case homicide unit and their law enforcement counterparts don't give up and this is a great example of the outstanding work they do to bring a measure of closure to victims' loved ones."

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