‘It was me’: Detectives say man wept, admitted to murdering elderly homeowner

VISTA, Calif. -- A homeless man who prosecutors say broke down and admitted to detectives that he killed an Oceanside man during a burglary last summer faces either the death penalty or life without parole if convicted.

Carey Lamont Reid Jr., 21, was denied bail Wednesday at a hearing on the Aug. 14 slaying of John Roth. Reid is charged with murder, with a special circumstance allegation of murder during a residential burglary, and "hot prowl" burglary.

Wednesday's court appearance was the first time Roth's widow, Zui Pang, was able to look at the man suspected of killing her husband.

“He’s a monster, he’s not a human being, (if) he can do such a horrible crime to John," Pang said at the hearing. "He deserves the highest possible punishment, he’s dangerous to our community. He needs to stay behind bars in jail, where he belongs."

A back door was found open, but there were no signs of forced entry or a struggle at Roth's home in the 500 block of North Tremont Street when he was found by his wife shortly before 7 a.m. on Aug. 14.

Roth had been stabbed twice in the neck while sitting on his couch, said Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe.

Prosecutors say that while he carried out the burglary, Reid helped himself to a ginger ale and then dumped it in the toilet.

“The can of ginger ale that was found in the bathroom during this residential burglary eventually led us to tracking down the defendant,” Watanabe explained. “He was in our national DNA database because he had been arrested for a felony in South Carolina in 2017.”

Prosecutors say Reid was finally arrested when a detective working the case drove past the victim's home and recognized him. Investigators say while being questioned, Reid admitted to the crime.

"He was shown a picture … and the defendant cried and said, 'It was me,'” Watanabe said. “Initially it was the DNA the matched him to this crime, but thanks to the good work of the detectives at the Oceanside Police Department, they were able to get a confession out of him (as well).”

The judge denied Reid bail. He will be back in court Jan. 24 for a readiness conference and Feb. 22 for a preliminary hearing.