Contract killer gets life in prison for 1992 death of Coachella Valley man
RIVERSIDE — A contract killer who fatally shot a Coachella Valley man more than two decades ago was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A Riverside jury on Dec. 6 convicted Russell Huber, 59, of Oroville of first-degree murder, with a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, for the death of 41-year-old Clyde Gregory Hayward of Palm Desert.
A Riverside County Superior Court judge imposed the sentence required by law. The District Attorney’s Office could have sought the death penalty for Huber, but elected not to pursue it.
Hayward went missing in July 1992, and his pickup truck was found about two weeks later on Highway 95, 26 miles north of Blythe, with dried blood found inside and two .380 shell casings discarded about 100 yards east of the vehicle.
Hayward’s girlfriend told detectives at the time she had turned down a marriage proposal from her employer, John Nichols, and alleged that he was behind her boyfriend’s disappearance, but there was no concrete evidence.
The prosecution said that after being rejected by the woman, Nichols arranged a fake business meeting with Hayward on the pretext of securing golf carts, which the victim sold, for a development project.
Officials said Hayward ended up meeting with Huber and Peter Boncore, a longtime associate of the defendant, as part of that arrangement and was killed.
Huber told investigators that he and Boncore were in the desert, where they “had a meeting with a guy about golf carts on behalf of Nichols,” according to the prosecution. Huber said they sat down at a diner and later went to Hayward’s house, but the victim was “alive and well” when the meeting ended.
Huber speculated during interviews with detectives that his DNA got into Hayward’s pickup because he drove the truck from the diner to Hayward’s house.
The victim’s […]