1960’s soul singer Betty Jane Willis: Killer Gets Life Sentence for 2018 Murder and Attempted Rape

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An Orange County jury handed down a life sentence to Rosendo Xo Pec, a homeless man convicted of brutally ending the life of 1960s soul singer Betty Jane Willis, 76, during a 2018 attempted rape. 

The decisive ruling, delivered after just an hour of deliberation, ensures that Pec, 28, will spend the remainder of his days behind bars, without any possibility of parole.

The tragic incident unfolded on New Year’s Day in 2018 in Santa Ana, where Willis met her untimely demise. Following a trial that played out over almost 6 years, Rosendo Xo Pec, 28, received his life sentence in late September 2023, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, as reported by KTLA 5.

Pec’s conviction hinged on a charge of first-degree murder, with the added special circumstance allegation of attempted rape. The severity of his crime made him eligible for the death penalty, as previously reported by The Orange County Register.

Pec encountered the sleeping Willis in a strip mall parking lot in Santa Ana, near a homeless encampment.