An Escondido man will spend at least 26 years in prison for killing his mother with a claw hammer in their shared home, a judge ruled Wednesday.
David McGee, 25, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of 55-year-old Rebecca Apodaca, who was found on Feb. 1 inside a home on North Hickory Street, between E Washington Avenue and Valley Parkway.
His sister, Rebecca Apodaca-Smith, and grandmother urged the court to take McGee's mental status into consideration when sentencing him.
"It was a very selfish act that my brother did. But when you are in the midst of something so desperate that you think that you need to kill yourself, things that might seem absolutely unthinkable before, people think of doing," Apodaca-Smith said.
One of the first responders, Thomas Hankins, a Fire Captain with the Escondido Fire Department, said they questioned McGee's mental condition.
"He didn't seem all there," said Hankins. "His eyes were bugged out. He was talking incoherently and didn't make much sense."
Police found Apodaca with major trauma to her head and a hammer on the table next to her bed. McGee was lying naked, half in and half out, of the bathroom when first responders arrived.
Apodaca-Smith believed her mother would have forgiven McGee.
"My brother needs to pay for what he did. He needs to have absolute, adequate consequences. But the fact that I know my mother, my mother would forgive him; I forgive him; I know that my grandmother forgives him, my grandfather, my family."
McGee sobbed as he apologized.
"Nothing can ever bring her back. Nothing. And I’m so sorry for what I’ve done," McGee said. "I'm not asking for you to let me go. Just at least let me see freedom one day so I can make up for what I’ve done."
The judge told McGee his apology doesn't change the "finality of the decision you made."
McGee was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for first-degree murder and one year in prison for the use of a hammer. He will have to pay a restitution fine of $10,000.
"You devastated your entire family. It pains me to see your sister and your grandmother sitting here today now without a mother and a daughter," the judge said.
McGee was given a hug by his grandmother before he was taken away.