A former soldier is facing life in prison after being convicted Thursday of a triple murder in Orange County, California.
Former Pvt. Joshua Acosta, 23, shot and killed Christopher Yost, 34, his wife, Jennifer Goodwill-Yost, 39, and their friend Arthur Boucher, 28, in the early hours of Sept. 24, 2016, according to a district attorney release.
Acosta told detectives that the family was a “festering wound” he had “cauterized" in a recorded confession played during the trial, the Orange County Register reported.
The defense argued that Acosta had acted to protect Goodwill-Yost’s 17-year-old daughter, that he is autistic, and that the teen had manipulated him into killing her parents.
Katlynn Goodwill testified, under immunity, that her stepfather had sexually assaulted her from age seven to 15. Goodwill also acknowledged that she had previously lied to police and prosecutors about who carried out the alleged abuse and who she had told about it, the Orange County Register reported.
Acosta, then serving on active duty, met the family through local “furry” gatherings, where people costume play as animals.
Goodwill told jurors that she was planning to tell her mother about the abuse on the night of the murders, and that she had asked Acosta and friend Frank Felix to help her run away afterward. She let Acosta into the home, she said, then waited with Felix in his truck as Acosta murdered her parents.
Both Acosta and Goodwill testified that the girl knew nothing about the murder plot. Felix, a co-defendant, faces charges for driving Acosta back to his home and helping him destroy evidence.
Acosta was arrested at his Fort Irwin, California, barracks, according to the district attorney.
He joined the Army in March 2015 and served as a wheeled vehicle mechanic. He was busted down to E-1 just before leaving the Army in May 2017, according to his service record. He was administratively separated, Human Resources Command spokesman Bill Costello told Army Times on Friday.
Acosta’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 14.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.