North County man gets 26-to-life for murdering mom with claw hammer

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ESCONDIDO, Calif. -- A man who beat his mother to death with a claw hammer in their Escondido apartment last year will spend to 26 years to life in state prison after an emotional sentencing Wednesday.

“Nothing can bring her back. Nothing. I’m so sorry for what I’ve done," David Noel McGee Jr. told the court before he learned his fate.

Convicted in the brutal slaying of his own mother, he sobbed as he asked the judge for a second chance: “I’m not asking you to let me go or anything, just let me see freedom again one day so that I can make up for what I’ve done. I’m sorry.”

McGee, 26, was convicted in May of first-degree murder for killing 55-year-old Rebecca "Becky" Apodaca.

Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe said it all started when Apodaca failed to check in with work and failed to respond to messages left by her supervisor, family and friends in February 2017. When a family member went to check on her, she was found unconscious on her blood-soaked bed.

McGee -- 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 on the bathroom sink and an empty bottle of Benadryl was found in the bathroom.

His sister is the one who made the gruesome discovery. She spoke before the judge handed down McGee's sentence Wednesday. “I know my mother would forgive him," she told the court. "I forgive him. I know that my grandmother forgives him. My father -- my family.”

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 blamed his mother for bringing him into the world. He claimed he heard a voice telling him to harm her, Watanabe said.

Before sentencing McGee to the maximum sentence, 26 years to life in prison, the judge said he took no pleasure in the outcome: “There are no winners in this case. None. Looking at your sister and your grandma, it breaks my heart.”

David McGee Jr. is embraced by his grandmother after learning he'll spend 26 years to life in state prison for the gruesome murder of his mother with a claw hammer.

Nearly the entire courtroom started to cry as McGee’s grandmother came from the galley to hug her grandson. In an extraordinary show of empathy, Judge Blaine Bowman allowed the grandmother a final embrace before he was led out of the courtroom. She could be heard saying, "Even though you did something bad, we love you, OK? We all love you."

After sentencing, McGee's sister told FOX 5 how she is so capable of forgiveness: “People make mistakes, this is obviously one of the worst mistakes a person can make, but it was still that -- just a mistake. I know he didn’t mean to do it.”

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