PLACER COUNTY, CA - A Placer County jury Wednesday found a 26-year-old Roseville woman guilty of first degree murder in the 2008 slaying of a longtime friend.
The jury also found Stephanie Erends guilty of the enhancements of lying in wait and using a deadly weapon in the murder of Alicia Ernst, 24, of Citrus Heights on March 8, 2008.
Ernst's body was found off Walerga Road covered in trash, according to authorities. Her throat had been slashed. Evidence was presented at trial that Erends had tried to cut off Ernst fingers to prevent identification and poured ammonia on her body.
Placer County District Attorney's Office prosecutor Garen Horst argued that Erends had a longtime resentment of Ernst, culminating when the victim reportedly embarrassed the defendant in front of her boyfriend.
Erends admitted using a sharp-edged garden scraping took in the attack which the prosecution contended she planned by planting the weapon in the back seat of the car the where the attack took place. Erends testified she and the victim began fighting when she grabbed the tool to slash Ernst, not intending to kill her.
The prosecution presented taped interviews Erends made with Placer County Sheriff's Department detectives in which she admitted driving Ernst to the Walerga Road site where she knew there was trash nearby and she climbed in the back seat to attack the victim.
The court set Feb. 10, 2010 for Erends' sentencing. The first-degree murder conviction and two enhancements make Erends eligible for life in prison without parole.