Murder trial begins for son accused of beating father to death

VISTA, Calif. — A man fatally beat and strangled his 71-year-old father in the victim’s Rancho Santa Fe home because the victim would not provide him with ongoing financial support, a prosecutor alleged Thursday, while a defense attorney said his client defended himself against his father, who had a history of anger issues and physical abuse toward the defendant during his childhood years.

Testimony began Thursday in the trial of Leighton Dorey IV, 42, who is charged with murder and a special circumstance allegation of torture in the May 30, 2017, death of Leighton Dorey III. He faces life without the possibility of parole if convicted.

In her opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Patricia Lavermicocca said the defendant — who had been living in France the prior four years — abruptly showed up at his father’s home that May. Dorey’s stepmother returned home on May 30 to find her husband’s “bloody, brutally beaten, strangled and tortured body,” the prosecutor said.

His numerous injuries included fractures to his spine, neck and ribs, as well as a broken nose, broken jaw, skin torn from his hands and many of his teeth strewn about his body from the force of the beating.

The prosecutor said investigators tracked the defendant’s cell phone to the Riverside County mountain community of Idyllwild, where his father also owned property. He was arrested there one day after his father’s death.

The elder Dorey’s blood was found inside the defendant’s Jeep, as well as on the insides of his pants, including inside one of his pockets.

Lavermicocca described Dorey as a man who loved to pursue his passions — which included skiing, mountain biking and computers — and have his parents foot the bill.

She said that in 2013, the elder Dorey put his foot down and told his son that he would no longer financially support him, something she said angered the defendant, particularly his father’s refusal to invest in Dorey’s proposal for a “money-multiplying software” that he was developing.

Soon after, Dorey moved to France and allegedly asked for $7,000 a year from his father to be able to remain overseas. Lavermicocca said Dorey referred to this in an email as the victim’s “fatherly duties.” She also said Dorey was in need of money due to unpaid taxes he owed the IRS.

Dorey’s attorney, Wilfrid Rumble, said the prosecution’s theory of a financially motivated killing made no sense. According to Rumble, Dorey was fairly stable financially, particularly due to money he was regularly receiving from his mother, the victim’s ex- wife. Rumble said she paid her son’s rent, gave him around $1,200 a month in spending money and upon his return to America, purchased the Jeep that he was driving in May 2017.

Rumble called Dorey a man who “embraces his dreams,” and said it would not make sense that he “would throw that all away, the rest of his life, by perpetrating this senseless murder and torture.”

The attorney said his client had no reason to expect any financial support from his father, as the victim had made it clear years prior to his death that he would not provide his son with any more money.

Rumble also said that the victim’s past behavior supported the contention that he “exploded in anger” and attacked his son on the day of his death. The attorney characterized the elder Dorey as a “perfectionist” and a strict disciplinarian who would not hesitate to use corporal punishment on his son for unfinished chores, including beating Dorey with a wooden spoon and spanking him in front of dinner guests.

Rumble said Dorey’s return to California was done in part to try and reconcile some of the strained aspects of his relationship with his father, and that he was not at all interested in committing any violence upon him.

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