On October 26, 1999, Susan Eubanks of San Marcos, California took the lives of her four sons. The boys, ranging in age from 4-14, were all shot in the head. She then turned the gun and shot herself in the stomach. According to her defense lawyers, she shot herself as a result of an attempted suicide. Only one other person was in the home at the time of the killings, Ms. Eubank's 5-year-old nephew, who was found unharmed.
After spending the day drinking with her boyfriend and taking Valium, they began to fight. Once home, she then slashed 2 tires on his car and refused to let him in the home. He called the police and they then escorted him to the home, where he removed some belongings and left. According to her defense team, this was the catalyst of the killings. They claimed that it was then that she lost control of her mind and body.
After warning one of the boys' fathers, as to her diminished mental state (The boyfriend told the father that she "Talked about killing herself and the boys"), the father then called the police department. He asked the Sheriffs Department to check on the children. When the deputies arrived at the home, they heard sobbing, and inside, found the three older boys dead from gunshot wounds to the head. The youngest was not yet dead, so an ambulance was called to the scene.
The four year old boys was still was then rushed by ambulance to the hospital, where he would later die. They then found the 5th child, her nephew unharmed. They also found Susan sobbing and suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She was also sent to the hospital. After 5 days, Ms. Eubanks was charged with 4 counts of first-degree murder.
The trail began in August of 1999 and the prosecuting attorneys alleged that Susan Eubanks had killed her sons as a result of rage. The rage was a result of anger felt toward their fathers and the boyfriend, whom had all chosen to leave her. It was claimed that she felt the desire to seek revenge for the failure of the relationships; that she had wanted the fathers to also know the pain of loosing those that had been loved.
The defense lawyers claimed that the murders took place as a result of "blacking" out; that as a result of a diminished state of mind, she was not in control of her actions. It was claimed that after spending the day drinking and using prescription drugs, along with past heartaches and current domestic disturbance, that she then became a "robot" and did what she thought would remove her pain.
During the trial, it was noted that there had been allegations of child abuse and talk of revenge prior to the murders. Prosecutors claimed that she was not suffering from a "black out" because she had to load her weapon twice before she had finished; thus giving her ample time to realize what she was doing and stop. It was also noted that while she had killed her sons "execution style", she had only shot herself in the stomach to. It was noted that she surely would know how to kill herself, after murdering 4 others. Prosecuting attorneys believed that she had shot herself to increase her chances of a lesser charge, or possibly to frame someone else for the murders.
In August of 1999, after just 2 hours of deliberation, the jury found her guilty on all four counts of first-degree murder. After 2 days, they returned with the sentence of death. The judge agreed with the sentence in October of 1999 and she was then transferred to the Central California's Women's Facility, where she now remains on death row.
On October 17, 2005, Nicole Diar age 30 of Lorain Ohio was convicted of arson and first degree murder in the death of her 4 year old son Jacob on August 27, 2003. On November 3, 2005 she was sentenced to death by lethal injection for the killing. The above two sentences may be the only undisputed facts in her case.
On August 27, 2003 a fire broke out in the home of Ms. Diar and her four year old son Jacob. Diar who had suffered severe and disfiguring burns at age 4 was able to escape the fire but her son was not. An autopsy was performed on the child the results indicated that Jacob had died before the fire had broken out. Because of the severely burned state of the body no conclusive cause of death could be determined but the lack of smoke soot in the childís lungs was conclusive evidence that Jacob had been dead before the fire started.
Diar acted in what many perceived to be an odd manner after the death of her child. The night of the funeral Ms. Diar and other family members went out drinking and dancing. Investigators were also troubled by what they viewed as a lack of emotion in a young woman who had just lost her child in such a horrible manner.
At her trial prosecutors introduced evidence that Nicole Diar was a poor mother often leaving her child with teenage babysitters while se went out drinking and instructing the sitters to give the child codeine acetaminophine to make him sleepy. The prosecutors theory of the case was that Nicole Diar had killed her son because she viewed him as a burden who kept her from living her life the way she wanted. They also claimed that because of her extensive experience volunteering with fire departments in fire safety programs and at camps for children who had suffered disfiguring burns she had developed the knowledge to know how to set a fire that would destroy all evidence of the murder. Although several witnesses were called who testified the Ms. Diar was an unfit parent. No evidence was ever introduced that would indicate anyone had thought badly enough of her parenting skills to inform Childrenís Services. No container that could have held the gas used to start the fire was ever recovered from the crime scene Under cross-examination the detectives who questioned Ms. Diar about the killing admitted that they had lied to her about the cause of death and the condition of the childís body. They defended this action as a necessary tactic in the investigation.
Fire fighters who had interviewed Ms. Diar at the scene testified that they did not smell an odor of smoke about her as they would have expected had she escaped from a burning building. In rebuttal a nurse who examined Diar at a hospital several hours after the fire stated and had included in her written medical report that Ms. Diar did have an odor of smoke about her when she was examined. Prosecutors dismissed this saying that Ms. Diar smoked cigarettes and that that was where the smoke smell came from.
The defense introduced evidence that prior to Ms. Diar and her son moving into the house where the fire occurred a previous fire which was ruled arson had destroyed a detached garage. No arrests have been made in the garage fire. The defense introduced several witnesses who testified that Nicole Diar was a loving mother. Ms. Diarís mother testified that because of her daughterís facial disfigurement she had been teased by her classmates and had been nicknamed Freddy Kruger. This was the reason that Ms. Diar did not display what many would consider normal responses to tragedy she had learned at an early age to keep her feeling to herself. Family members also testified that on the day of Jacobís funeral Ms. Diar was heavily medicated with anti-depressants and that the combination of medication and alcohol was responsible for her seemingly odd behavior in the hours immediately following the burial of her son.
The jury took only 4 hours to convict Ms. Diar of the murder and arson.
Nicole Diar still denies having any part in the death of her son Her family still strongly support her innocence. Her case is presently on appeal. Within days of Ms. Diar being convicted new evidence surfaced that may point to a different suspect in the killing. Two days before the murder Ms. Diar reported two money orders missing from her home. The total of the two money orders was over $500 which under Ohio law would make the theft a felony. A neighbor, who testified for the prosecution, was with Diar when she reported the money orders stolen is alleged to have cashed the two money orders. The same neighbor also had the locks in the house changed for Diar the day before the killing. Family members have claimed that one of the keys for the new locks was missing after the fire. The same neighbor it is claimed also served Ms. Diar drinks at Diarís home hours before the fire broke out. Defense attorneys for Ms. Diar had hoped this new evidence would be enough for the presiding judge in the case to overturn her conviction. I what had been described as a very heated hearing with both prosecution and defense attorneys being admonished for their behavior the judge refused to grant a request for a new trial .