Death penalty upheld for man who molested, strangled boys in South Bay

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. — The state Supreme Court Thursday upheld the death sentence for a former Imperial Beach man who molested and strangled two young boys in 1993 after luring them into a homemade “fort” near the Otay River bed.

Scott Thomas Erskine, 56, was sentenced to death 15 years ago for the March 27, 1993, deaths of 13-year-old Charlie Keever and 9-year-old Jonathan Sellers.

The boys disappeared while on a bicycle ride near their South Bay homes. A jogger found their semi-nude bodies two days later.

Erskine lured the victims into an igloo-shaped “fort” of brush, tied them up and molested them before strangling them, authorities said.

Jurors convicted him of two counts of first-degree murder and special circumstance allegations of torture, child molestation and multiple murders.

In March 2001, Erskine was serving a 70-year prison sentence for raping a San Diego woman when newly tested DNA evidence linked him to the boys’ murders. The rape occurred in the summer of 1993, a few months after the boys were killed.

About one week before the death sentence was handed down, Erskine also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the Florida slaying of 26-year- old Renee Baker, whose body was discovered on June 23, 1989, in Palm Beach. He was sentenced to life without parole in Baker’s killing.

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