NorCal tree-trimmer found guilty in fatal throat-slashings
05/19/2022 2:50 pm PDT
OROVILLE, Calif. (TCD) -- A 38-year-old tree-trimmer was convicted of murder and attempted murder charges after slashing the throats of his victims.
According to a news release from the Butte County District Attorney's Office, Ryan Blinston was part of a tree-trimming work crew. On May 18, 2020, he helped service the Los Molinos home of 88-year-old Loreen Severs and 91-year-old Homer Severs.
On the evening of May 22, 2020, Blinston returned to the Severs' residence for a "scouting trip," before heading back to Oroville, the District Attorney's Office says. On the following morning of May 23, 2020, Blinston returned to the home again, forced his way in, and slit the throats of Loreen and Homer. Homer survived, but Loreen did not. Homer later died in December 2020 from an unrelated illness.
On June 4, 2020, Blinston worked with another tree-trimming work crew to service the home of 82-year-old Sandra George, according to the District Attorney's Office. Prosecutors said after the work crew left, Blinston went back to the home and fatally slit George's throat inside her home.
Prosecutors provided evidence regarding the death of 57-year-old Vicky Cline, one of Blinston's acquaintances. She was reportedly last seen alive with Blinston on June 6, 2020, in Oroville. Cline’s car was destroyed by arson fire later that night, the District Attorney's Office says. The blood and DNA evidence on and in Blinston's car matched back to Cline, and on June 21, 2020, her body was reportedly found by a fisherman in the Feather River with damage to her throat.
According to the District Attorney's Office, Blinston was also "convicted of attempting to murder a 50-year-old man in the man’s Brush Creek motorhome on June 14, 2020, while a Butte County Sheriff’s SWAT team was approaching to arrest Blinston for the Cline arson."
Blinston was reportedly taken into custody after trying to flee. He was held in the Butte County Jail.
On Tuesday, May 17, the District Attorney's Office announced that Blinston was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, arson, and resisting arrest. The trial reportedly began on May 2, 2022.
Thirty-five witnesses were called to testify against Blinston, including DNA and cellphone GPS technology experts, along with forensic pathologists and an anthropologist. According to the District Attorney's Office, Blinston did not testify.
Blinston faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, the District Attorney's Office says.
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