Joshua Houlgate: Killed in San Luis Obispo in 2007

April 7, 2010 

Joshua Houlgate

Joshua Houlgate bled as he stumbled down the stairs of a San Luis Obispo mobile home, pausing briefly and covering his battered head with his hand before collapsing.

Blood evidence was used to piece together the Dec. 6, 2007 slaying at Oceanaire Mobile Home Park on Orcutt Road. The shooting left 36-year-old Houlgate dead and defendants Chad Westbrook, 37, and Patrick Wollett, 19, on trial on charges of murder.

Jurors also found Westbrook and Wollett guilty of felony assault with a deadly weapon and convicted Westbrook separately of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In August, Westbrook was sentenced to 67 years to life in prison.

In March, defense attorney Tom McCormick, who replaced attorney Gregory Jacobson, argued before San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Dodie A. Harman that "there was no defense present" in Patrick Wollett's case and that his client did not receive a fair trial.

Deputy District Attorney Matt Kerrigan opposed the motion for a new trial, saying the question is whether he received a competent defense "and the answer, I think, is yes."

However, in an unusual turn, Houlgate's parents, Laurence Houlgate, a retired Cal Poly philosophy professor, and Torre Houlgate- West, wrote a letter to Harman in September saying that Wollett should get an appeal.

"We do not accept the accuracy of Sarah Rey's testimony about Patrick's role in the beating and murder of our son. We believe that Patrick's culpability was not proven, " they wrote. "We think Patrick Wollett was so poorly represented by his attorney that an appeal based on attorney incompetence and neglect should be made."

Sarah Lonsinger-Rey had been high on methamphetamine and drunk from tequila and beer but told a Superior Court jury that she remembers Chad Westbrook holding a shotgun aimed at Houlgate and firing.

Lonsinger-Rey said she never saw a weapon in Wollett's hands, who prosecutors alleged was beating Lonsinger-Rey and Houlgate as they lay on a mattress in his mobile home.

Harman scheduled an April 23 hearing. If the motion for a new trial is denied, then Wollett will be sentenced at that time.

Kennedy, a crime scene reconstructionist who uses blood stain patterns, said Houlgate was either crouched down, kneeling or lying down on a pillow as he was beaten and dripping blood.

Kennedy showed a photo of Houlgate's bloody face with a gash above his left eyebrow to jurors, along with a photo of Houlgate's bloody left hand. Prosecutors allege Wollett beat Houlgate , then Westbrook shot him before he stumbled outside onto the stairs and collapsed onto the pavement where he died.

"He appears to have paused and bled heavily onto the bumper of the car. He's just meandering to the point where he finally dies," Kennedy said.

No blood trail was found inside the mobile home, said Deputy District Attorney Matt Kerrigan, which may have been because Houlgate was covering his head wound, Kennedy said.

Under cross-examination by Westbrook's defense attorney, Gael Mueller, Kennedy said he could not be sure Houlgate had the pillow with him during the beating.

Additional testimony Monday included that of state Department of Justice experts, showing blood was found on Wollett's and West-brook's jeans.

No blood or fingerprints were found on either metal pipe found at the scene that prosecutors believe Houlgate and Sarah Lonsinger-Rey were beaten with as they lay on a mattress in Wollett's mobile home.

Defense attorneys claim testimony by Lonsinger-Rey, the only eyewitness, is unreliable because she was highly intoxicated on drugs and alcohol at the time.

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