Skip to content

New charge filed against local killer


A man on death row for a Palmdale woman’s killing has pleaded guilty to strangling another woman in her South Los Angeles home more than three decades ago.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench immediately sentenced James Robert Scott, 53, to life in prison without parole for killing Vivian Johnson, 40, who was found dead Nov. 29, 1982, inside her home in the 3900 block of Welland Avenue in Leimert Park, according to Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller.

Along with his plea to a first-degree murder charge, Scott admitted the special circumstance allegations of murder during the course of a rape and murder with a prior conviction for murder, the prosecutor said.

Los Angeles police said in 2014 that Scott was linked to Johnson’s killing through DNA evidence collected at the crime scene.

At the time of his arrest in connection with Johnson’s killing, Scott was on death row for Wanda Jensen’s murder, according to the prosecutor.

Scott struck Jensen on the head with a baseball bat, raped, beat and choked her into unconsciousness on her bed, then set the bed on fire before leaving her Palmdale apartment on April 22, 1986, according to a 1997 California Supreme Court ruling upholding his conviction.

Jensen—who suffered burns over 35 percent of her body—died in February 1987 as a result of her injuries, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

He had pleaded guilty in 1983 to assault with a deadly weapon involving a knife attack on a woman who managed to escape from her home, and a 1986 rape of another woman, according to the ruling.