A man who stabbed an Apache Junction teenager to death in 2008 when he was himself a teenager was sentenced to life in prison on Monday.

Both David Paulson, 21, and Randall Davis-Mercier were 17 when Maeghan Rice, 16, picked up Mercier the evening of June 20, 2008, in a pickup truck. According to police, Rice then said a code word that triggered Paulson to come out from his hiding place under a blanket and stab Mercier as many as 20 times, reportedly out of jealousy. Mercier was able to escape the truck, but collapsed and bled to death on the side of the road.

Paulson was found guilty by a Pinal County jury following a two-week trial last month. Rice, a Gold Canyon resident, was then Paulson’s 16-year-old girlfriend.

After the killing, Paulson fled to Salt Lake City, where he later was captured by the U.S. Marshal’s Service Fugitive Task Force.

“David Paulson committed a particularly heinous crime,” said Pinal County Attorney James Walsh. “This was a long and hard trial for the victim’s family, and I want to offer my condolences.”

More than 500 people attended a candlelight vigil for Mercier, and more than 400 went to his funeral.

Rice, now 20, has been held in the Pinal County Adult Detention Center since her arrest. She was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison for second-degree murder in connection with the killing.

Paulson, who has been kept in the Pinal County Adult Detention Center since the crime, will be eligible for parole after he serves 25 years in prison, according to the Pinal County Attorney’s Office.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6533 or msakal@evtrib.com

(2) comments

Navy Mom

I am very happy that Randall's family and friends finally got some closure on such a senseless act. Now the healing can begin. My thoughts and prayers are with Harold, his entire family and all of his loved ones.

Alnsgrl21

Justice was served finally! RIP Randall!<3

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