California man who threatened ‘bad day’ for ex-girlfriend convicted of her murder

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A California man was convicted Thursday in the beating and strangulation death of his ex-girlfriend.

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An Orange County jury convicted Jason James Becher, 46, of Anaheim, of first-degree murder in the December 2016 death of his former girlfriend, Marylou Sarkissian, 50, of Huntington Beach, The Orange County Register reported.

The jury also agreed with the Orange County prosecutor’s special circumstance charge against Becher of lying in wait, before committing the crime, according to a news release from the office of Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer.

“We are all so relieved,” Debbie Correia-Zdrazil, Sarkissian’s sister, told the Register. “We can breathe now. We can move on with our lives. We have some closure and justice for Marylou.”

Sarkissian, a single mother of three, had filed for a restraining order against Becher during the summer of 2020, the Los Angeles Times reported. Sarkissan had installed a security system at her home the day before she died, the newspaper reported.

Deputy District Attorney Janine Madera said Becher waited in Sarkissian’s backyard, then attacked her when she let a dog out of the sliding door to her bedroom at 12:15 a.m. PDT, the Register reported. Authorities said Sarkissian was strangled and beaten to death.

“It wasn’t just about killing her, it was about making sure he got the last word,” Madera told jurors.

On Dec. 1, 2016, while a technician installed a security system with motion-triggered cameras at Sarkissian’s home, Becher reportedly told an uncle that it was going to be “a bad day in Huntington Beach,” as he left the home he shared with his family, according to the Register. When the uncle asked for an explanation, Becher allegedly responded that it would be “a bad day for Marylou,” Madera told jurors.

Deputy Public Defender Irene Pai admitted that Becher inflicted “blow after blow” on Sarkissian and was responsible for her death, the Times reported. However, she argued that the killing was not premeditated but was instead the result of rage on Becher’s part. She had argued for a lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter or voluntary manslaughter, the newspaper reported.

Pai contended that Becher came to Sarkissian’s home to retrieve money he believed she had been stealing from his illegal marijuana sales business, the Register reported.

“His plan that night -- outside the door -- was to try to get in and talk to Marylou or get his money back, and that is all he thought of,” Pai told jurors.

Becher’s sentencing is scheduled for June 11, the Times reported. He could face life in prison without parole.

Sarkissian’s sister said a life sentence would send a message to domestic violence abusers, as well as make their family feel more secure.

“Otherwise he would have come after us, and now we feel safe,” Correia-Zdrazil told the Register. “And he can’t hurt another woman like this.”

“It was a bad day for Jason Becher in Santa Ana today.”