North County man convicted of murdering mother with claw hammer

ESCONDIDO, Calif. – A man who beat his mother to death with a claw hammer in their Escondido apartment was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder.

Jurors deliberated about one day before finding 26-year-old David Noel McGee Jr. guilty of killing 55-year-old Rebecca "Becky" Apodaca.

McGee faces 26 years to life in prison when he is sentenced June 25 at the Vista Courthouse.

Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe told the jury that Apodaca failed to log in to her at-home medical billing job on Feb. 1, 2017, and failed to respond to messages left by her supervisor, family and friends.

Apodaca's adult daughter went by the victim's apartment on North Hickory Street about 6:30 p.m. and found her mother unconscious on her blood-soaked bed.

The defendant -- naked and covered in blood -- was found hiding in a closet. He had self-inflicted knife wounds on his wrists and forearms and a self-inflicted knife wound across his neck, Watanabe said. A bloody toaster was plugged in and was sitting the bathroom sink and an empty bottle of Benadryl was found in the bathroom.

Levels of an over-the-counter antihistamine found in Benadryl were so high in the defendant's blood that he could have ingested 100 or more 25mg pills, the prosecutor said.

Deputy Public Defender Lindsay Itzhaki said McGee's attack on his mother happened "in a fog of Benadryl," and that there was a difference between "killing and murder."

After his release from the hospital, McGee told police that he was depressed and broken and blamed his mother for bringing him into the world. He claimed he heard a voice telling him to harm the victim, Watanabe said.