A 19-year-old Apache Junction man who stabbed another teenager to death inside a pickup truck three years ago was found guilty on Friday of first-degree murder.
The sentencing ended a two-week trial for the crime that left 17-year-old Randall Mercier dead after he bled to death in a ditch.
David Paulson was found guilty by a jury in Pinal County Superior Court before Judge Gilberto Figueroa for stabbing Mercier multiple times as Paulson's 16-year-old girlfriend Meaghan Rice of Gold Canyon drove along North Tomahawk Road north of Superstition Boulevard, according to Capt. Tom Kelly, spokesman for the Apache Junction Police Department.
On June 20, 2008, Paulson hid under a blanket in the back cab of the truck driven by Rice, who picked Mercer up moments before Paulson attacked him after Rice said a code word for him to act out of jealously over the girl, Kelly said. Paulson stabbed Mercier at least 20 times.
Severely injured, Mercier was able to run out of the truck, but collapsed near the road before he died, according to Apache Junction police.
After the crime, Paulson fled to Salt Lake City, where he later was captured by the U.S. Marshal's Service Fugitive Task Force.
More than 500 people attended a candlelight vigil for Mercier and more than 400 people attended his funeral.
Rice, who was convicted of second-degree murder for her role as a co-conspirator in Mercier's death, will be sentenced on Monday, according to jail records.
A sentencing date for Paulson has not been scheduled.
Paulson and Rice, who both were tried as adults, have been incarcerated in a Pinal County jail since the crime.
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