California registered sex offender, Steven Gordon, found guilty of murdering four street prostitutes; one from OKC was featured on johntv

Photo by Sam Gangwer, Orange County Register

12/22/2016 - Santa Ana, CA -- Registered sex offender Steven Gordon was found guilty of the murders of four street prostitutes he, and co-defendant Franc Cano, solicited in the Aneheim area. One of Gordon's victims, Jarrae Estepp, was an Oklahoma street prostitute that was well known to JohnTV.

During the penalty phase, the jury in Gordon's case recommended that he face the death penalty.

Gordon, 45, and Cano, 27, are accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering at least four women from 2013 to 2014. 

All of their alleged victims were working as street prostitutes when they were killed. The victims have been identified as Kianna Jackson, 20, Josephine Vargas, 34, Martha Anaya, 28, and Jarrae Estepp, 21. 

Estepp (bottom left photo above), from Oklahoma, was well known to JohnTV. We have a detailed profile on Estepp and her murder at this link. Estepp's body was the only one so far recovered by investigators.

Gordon previously confessed to the four kidnappings, rapes and murders in a video recorded interview with investigators.

Gordon claimed that all four women's bodies were covered in garbage bags and discarded in dumpster's behind an auto body shop where they occasionally did odd jobs and were allowed to reside in an RV parked in the alley.

Dumpsters Steven Gordon claims he and Franc Cano used to dispose of all four bodies.

Gordon and Cano are registered sex offenders and were wearing ankle monitors at the time of their alleged crimes.

Gordon and Cano are being tried separately. Gordon's trial is first and he has been allowed to represent himself.

Both Gordon and Cano are charged with special-circumstances murder and forcible rape - death penalty eligible.

Trial Summary:

Nov. 16 (Wed) - Day 1

Before the Trial Began: Gordon refused a prosecution offer that involved dropping the rape charges against him. No further details were offered as to what Gordon would have to had agreed to in exchange for the dropped charges.

Gordon also did not object to family members of the alleged murder victims being allowed to remain in the courtroom, even though they are scheduled to testify during the trial.

Opening Statements: Prosecutor Larry Yellin compared their search for the individuals responsible for the series of slayings to the efforts to stop a killer shark in the 9175 movie "Jaws." 

“‘Jaws’ is about a predator,” Larry Yellin told jurors. “This case is about two. You are about to see the hunt.”

Gordon, representing himself, spoke very little during the first day of trial - deciding against making opening statements at this point to the jury.

Prosecutor Yellin gave jurors and overview of how investigators developed the first clues that eventually pointed them to Gordon and Cano and how the duo's GPS ankle-monitors and the victim's cell phone data filled in many of the blanks and put them at the scene of the last known locations of each of the murdered women.

The jurors were also shown text messages between Gordon and Cano during the moments when prosecutors claims the pair was raping and killing Estepp. (*you can read the content of those text messages on JohnTV, at this link)

Jarrae Estepp, pregnant, prostitution along S. Robinson Ave. in south Oklahoma City. By JohnTV.

Prosecutors told jurors that Gordon gave a lengthy interview with investigators and that while he confessed to picking each of the four women up and having sex with them - Gordon insists that Cano was the one to commit the murders (which is why the two are being tried separately).

Pause in Proceedings: After the lunch recess, there was a 30-minute delay in returning the jury to the courtroom because of something that was only described as a "security concern." After additional deputies were brought into the courtroom, the trial resumed.

Victim Family Testimony: Close relatives of murder victims Jackson, Vargas and Anaya also testified in the afternoon. The family members claimed to jurors that they were in constant contact with their loved one and that when the contact ceased, they knew something terrible had happened. Family members claimed not to be aware of their relative's involvement in street prostitution - but acknowledged they knew they had 'issues' and 'problems.'

Gordon choose not to cross-examine any of the family members.

Nov. 17 (Thur) - Day 2

Prosecution: The prosecution told jurors that a pair of feet sticking out of a pile of garbage on a conveyor belt at an Anaheim waste and recycling facility was what caught the attention of workers and initiated the investigation against Gordon and Cano.

Upon further examination, workers, who first thought the badly mangled feet and legs belonged to a discarded mannequin, soon realized it was the nude body of 21-year-old Jarrae Estepp of Oklahoma.

Jarrae Estepp on S. Robinson Ave. in south Oklahoma City. Photo by Brian Bates

Crime scene investigators analyzed much of the garbage around Estepp's body. Fingerprints on a tube of painter's caulking led them to Elias Sanchez.

Sanchez testified that he often disposed of building materials in a dumpster that was later identified as the dumpster Estepp's body was placed in.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Yong-Son Kim testified that Estepp's body showed signs of sexual assault. Kim testified that a tampon found inside of Estepp's body contained the DNA of Gordon and Cano.

Investigators then testified that after identifying the dumpster where Estepp was discarded, they decided to analyze GPS data from registered sex offenders to see if any had been in that area over a certain period of time. That search revealed Gordon and Cano.

It was also revealed during testimony that by the time Anaya and Estepp were raped and murdered, gordon was no longer required to wear a GPS ankle monitor so they only had Cano's movements that could be tracked.

Gordon: Gordon requested a mistrial, citing the amount of news coverage around the trial and the number of armed deputies in the courtroom. Gordon stated, "I don't think I can get a fair trial." That request was denied by Orange County Superior Court Judge Patrick H. Donahue after he questioned each juror to make certain none was following any of the media reports about the case.

Nov. 21 (Mon)

Gordon: Defendant Steven Gordon told jurors that it was actually federal parole agents that were to blame for the deaths, asserting officials didn't do a good enough job tracking his movements.

It was revealed that Gordon had court ordered restricted movements. While he was allowed to live in the RV in the alley of an industrial park, he was supposed to check in with probation before going anywhere - even for short periods of time. Gordon pointed out that his GPS history clearly showed he moved around alot and often in areas known for street prostitution. Gordon questioned Adam Grant, a U.S. probation and parole officer, who took the stand as to why his movements were not ever investigated or questioned.

Gordon told Grant in court that if he had been paying closer attention to GPS data from his ankle monitor that Estepp would still be alive. “Because of your negligence, she is not,” Gordon said at the conclusion of his cross examination.

Jarrae Estepp soliciting street prostitution in OKC. Photo by Brian Bates

In response, Grant pointed out to jurors that Gordon did often check in and would report where he would be going. Grant even read from text messages Gordon had sent him, “To quote you, ‘I need fresh air and my dog needs fresh air,’” Grant read.

Grant said that Gordon was not restricted from going to the areas where he picked up his victims.

Prosecution: Anaheim Police Department investigator Bruce Linn testified that hundreds of dumpsters were checked and eliminated as possible victim dump sites before the final dumpster was identified.

Nov. 22 (Tues)

Prosecution: A video interview investigators previously had with Gordon was shown in court. Specifically jurors watched and listened to statements by Gordon where he alleged that he intentionally removed the garbage bags Cano had placed on Estepp's body, in hopes of someone spotting her.

Family members in the audience openly sobbed as they listened to Gordon recount how he and Cano stalked, picked up, had sex with, murdered and then discarded each young woman.

All four women allegedly died of a combination of strangling and blunt force trauma.

Gordon claims that Cano would often order him to punch the women in the stomach, as Cano strangled them, in an effort to force the air out of their lungs and cause them to die faster.

After killing the women, Gordon and Cano would clean the nude bodies and clip their finger nails in an effort to remove any DNA evidence.

Gordon admitted in court that after the first murder, which he claims was Cano's doing, that he knew the subsequent women would be killed when they had finished with them.

Gordon testified that some of their victims were chosen by random, while others were targeted for one reason or another. 

Gordon claimed that he didn't want to kill Estepp and that he wanted the killings to end. Gordon testified that killing Estepp was Cano's doing.

After the jury was excused from the courtroom, Gordon was overheard telling Orange County Superior Court Judge Patrick H. Donahue, “Nothing is going to help me ... I already know where I’m going. At this point, I want to get it over with."

The trial is in recess for the Thanksgiving holiday and is set to resume on Dec. 7, 2016.

Dec. 7 (Weds.)

Gordon: “You heard the prosecutor refer to myself and Franc Cano as predators,” Gordon told the jurors. “I would agree with that statement partially. In no way am I a saint, but I have a conscience. He does not. And I am going to prove it to you.” Defendant Steven Gordon told jurors that his co-defendant Franc Cano (also a registered sex offender) was to blame. Gordon said that Cano was a man without a conscience and that he believes Cano may have killed even more women. Cano is being tried separately from Gordon because Gordon has chosen to implicate Cano of the crime he is charged with.

Gordon presented numerous text messages to the jury that he said showed that Cano was an abuser of animals and was the true motivator and murderer in this case.

Gordon also called three witnesses who were identified as the manger and owners of Boss Paint & Body - an Anaheim automotive shop where Gordon occasionally worked and both he and Cano were allowed to reside on the property. The dumpsters in this immediate area are also alleged to have been the disposal sites for the murdered women's bodies.

All three witnesses acknowledged they were aware both Gordon and Cano were registered sex offenders eho were court ordered to wear ankle monitors.

One witness, Jerry Montgomery, the shop manager, told jurors that on the day Gordon was arrested Gordon told him "I'm a piece of shit. I killed someone. You will probably never see me again."

Montgomery also said that Gordon had anger issues.

Family members of the young women Gordon is accused of raping and murdering sat quietly in the courtroom as Gordon attempted to lessen the severity of his actions.

Dec. 8 (Thurs)

Gordon: Defendant Steven Gordon called to the stand state parole supervisor Maryanne Larios. Larios oversaw the parole office in Anaheim when Gordon and co-defendant Franc Cano were court ordered to be monitored by ankle GPS units.

Gordon became a registered offender after he was convicted for molesting his nephew. Gordon was first placed on GPS monitored probation after he kidnapped his then wife and child. Gordon was again placed on probation after he cut off his ankle monitor and left the state.

“Two sex offenders were doing these crimes under your [Maryanne Larios] supervision and you didn’t do a damn thing about it,” Gordon told Larios in court.

Gordon also called Felicia Johnson to the stand. Johnson supervised both Gordon and Cano until 2011. Gordon alleged that Johnson had given him and Cano permission to sleep in the same area - a practice that was supposed to have been forbidden.

Johnson testified that in 2011 restrictions on parolees sleeping near one another were lessened in light of serial killings targeting the homeless during that time. Johnson said that homeless parolees were advised to pair up for safety.

Also called to the stand by Gordon was state parole agent Douglas Radtke. 

Radtke began supervising Gordon and Cano in 2012, after Johnson. Radtke testified that he routinely checked both Gordon and Cano's GPS data to ensure that the two were not going into area they were forbidden - such as schools, playgrounds, etc.

Gordon and Cano were not restricted from going to places known for street prostitution and Radtke testified that there is no automated way to compare Gordon and Cano's GPS data to show they are hanging out together excessively. Radtke testified that to do that a supervisor would have to pull all records and compare them by hand.

Gordon has continually tried to shift blame onto Cano and probation officers.

Dec. 9 (Fri)

Gordon: Defendant Steven Gordon called co-defendant Franc Cano to the stand. The only question Gordon was able to ask was "Do you know me?" Cano, in shackles and prison orange immediately invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.

Gordon called Manuel Ontiveros, a federal probation officer, to the stand.

Gordon continued his line of questioning that tried to lay blame on probation officers for not keeping closer tabs and Cano and himself.

Gordon also called Shiloh Catamese, his former psychologist. During her questioning Gordon asked her if she recalled an outburst he claims he had during a group session where he said, "You make me so mad I want to kill somebody." Catamese denied recalling any such outburst.

At one point Gordon addressed Orange County Superior Court Judge Patrick H. Donahue, outside the presence of the jury, stating, "“All of my witnesses have lied. ... I need some information to discredit them in front of the jurors.”

“That is your responsibility,” the judge replied. “I don’t know what else to say. ... How many times did I ask you before trial if you were ready?”

Dec. 12 (Mon)

Gordon's 12-hour video recorded interview/confession with investigators was played again for jurors. During the video that was played on Monday, Gordon refers to a fifth female whose murder he claims to have participated in. The woman, who has never been identified, never led to any criminal charges against Gordon or his co-defendant Franc Cano.

In the video interview, Gordon claims that he picked up the woman - described as a 'toothpick' thin black female in her 20's - during a time in which Gordon was not required to wear a GPS ankle monitor.

Gordon claims he met the woman on Beach Blvd. and that she was prostituting independently (without a pimp).

Gordon said he brought the woman back to the Anaheim industrial area where he lived. There, Gordon claims he had sex with the woman then killed her.

“She kept nagging and nagging,” Gordon said during the interview. “I guess she nagged too much.”

It was also revealed that Gordon had agreed to tell investigators all the details of his and Cano's crimes in exchange for a swift execution.

Investigators told Gordon they didn't have the power to guarantee such a deal.

Dec. 13 (Tues)

Gordon addressed jurors and told them he is responsible for the deaths of the four young women that he is on trial for.

Gordon claimed in court that his motivation for the murders was uncontrollable anger at law enforcement.

Gordon confessed to jurors that he in fact killed five women and that he was directly aided by his co-defendant Franc Cano - who is to be tried separately.

“I’m just as responsible for what happened to these five girls as my co-defendant,” Gordon told the jurors. “Even though I changed my mind with the last girl, the fact that it still happened means I have to be held accountable.”

Gordon claimed in court that the first murder was unintentional but that he and Cano became angry when Kianna Jackson took their money but tried to leave before finishing their sexual encounter.

Gordon said they decided to kill again, just ten days later.

Gordon told jurors that the first four killings he was simply in shock, but by the fifth he realized the murders were a venting for his anger at "the system."

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin on Thursday.

Dec. 14 (Weds)

Trial has been delayed by a day due to a juror's family emergency.

Dec. 15 (Thurs)

Closing statements were completed with Gordon admitting he played a direct role in the kidnappings and murders of the four women he is accused of killing. Gordon described his actions as "beyond evil."

The jury deliberated for less than an hour, before finding Gordon on all charges.

Because the jury determined the murders took place while being kidnapped, Gordon qualifies for the death penalty.

Jurors will return next week for the penalty phase of Gordon's trial.

Dec. 21 (Weds)

The jury has recommended that Steven Gordon receive the death penalty for his crimes.