September 26, 2002
A former couple were sentenced to death Wednesday for luring a Pleasanton student into a specially rigged van where they sexually tortured and strangled her before dumping her body on a snowy embankment.
James Anthony Daveggio, 42, and his then-lover, Michelle Lyn Michaud, 43, were sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman in Oakland for killing 22-year-old Vanessa Lei Samson on Dec. 2, 1997.
A jury that convicted the pair recommended the death penalty in June.
Michaud will become the 14th woman to await execution on California's Death Row. She is expected to be housed at the condemned women's quarters at the women's prison in Chowchilla.
"The death penalty is the appropriate penalty," Goodman said, adding that Samson's slaying and torture was "vile, cruel, senseless, depraved, brutal, evil and vicious."
The pair kidnapped Samson from a Pleasanton street, kept her inside their green Dodge Caravan, rigged with hooks and ropes, and repeatedly tortured her as they drove to South Lake Tahoe. They forced her to wear a rubber-ball gag and strangled her with nylon rope.
In court Wednesday, Samson's brother, Vincent, placed a framed picture of his sister at the table where the bearded Daveggio sat, wearing a red jail shirt. Later in the day, Vincent Samson did the same thing at Michaud's sentencing.
In both cases, Vincent Samson addressed the defendants. He called Daveggio a "demon" and said, "You're pure evil, and you deserve to die."
Daveggio replied, "I, in fact, did not kill Ms. Samson. By law I am as guilty of her death as Michelle is. Do I care or feel for Ms. Samson? Yes, watching your family, unfortunately I have never seen love as you all have for her. Yes, I think about it every day."
Michaud did not respond on the advice of her attorneys.
Relatives and friends of the slain woman packed the courtroom. Many wore purple ribbons, for Samson's favorite color.
Nichole Samson said outside court that the punishment was "in the jury's hands, the judge's hands and in God's hands."
Prosecutors said Daveggio and Michaud had sexually assaulted at least six other young women, two of whom were relatives of the defendants.
During the trial, prosecutor Angela Backers told a five-man, seven-woman jury that "Michaud described each vicious assault as an 'adventure.' Daveggio referred to them as 'huntings.'"
Film Duration: 43 min
September 26, 2002
Sign up to have DA updates sent to your email.
Unsubscribe anytime :)