A California tree trimmer was found guilty in multiple throat-slashing incidents that took the lives of three people. Now, the Oroville man is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Members of a Butte County jury found Ryan Scott Blinston guilty of murder, attempted murder, and arson, the Tehama County District Attorney’s office announced this week. The Associated Press (AP) reported Wednesday:
Blinston was working for a tree-trimming service when in 2020 he returned to the clients’ homes in Butte and Tehama Counties, north of Sacramento, after the work was completed and slashed the throats of the residents, prosecutors said.
In May 2020, he attacked Loreen Severs, 88, of Los Molinos in Tehama County and her husband, Homer Severs, 91. Homer Severs survived the attack but died that December of an unrelated illness, authorities said.
In a press release on Tuesday, the district attorney’s office said Blinston was also found guilty of resisting arrest.
“Butte County Deputy District Attorneys Niels Bringsjord and Mark Emmons called 35 witnesses to testify against Blinston including experts in DNA and cellphone GPS technology, as well as forensic pathologists and an anthropologist,” the release said, adding that hundreds of pieces of evidence were handed over to the jury.
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In addition, the man was charged in the slaying of 82-year-old Sandra George and 57-year-old Vicky Cline, who both resided in Oroville. Officials also charged him with setting fire to Cline’s vehicle.
“This is on a truly evil man that we have now brought to justice,” Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey told ABC 10:
According to the AP, Blinston was arrested on June 14, 2020, just days after Cline disappeared. The Butte County Sheriff’s SWAT team found him at a motorhome in Brush Creek, having previously planned to arrest him on suspicion of burning the woman’s vehicle.
When team members surrounded the motorhome, they heard cries from a man inside and someone banging on the structure. The noise was Blinston trying to break in while using a hatchet, according to prosecutors.
Blinston was eventually taken into custody. He had recently met the homeowner and stayed there while claiming he was scared to leave in the dark due to bears, according to the resident.
Blinston cut the man’s neck, but the man had the strength to force Blinston out of the home. He then shut and locked the door. Medical personnel tended to the seriously wounded man, who was later transported to a nearby hospital for additional treatment.
“Prosecutors didn’t mention a motive for the crimes other than to say robbery was not a motivating factor,” the AP report concluded.