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California Man Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murdering Two Women With Meat Cleaver

“I don’t know that I have often, if ever, seen a crime a callous as what you did in this case,” Orange County Superior Court Judge Sheila Hanson told Christopher Ken Ireland during sentencing.

By Dorian Geiger
Christopher Ken Ireland Ap

A California man convicted in the brutal murders of two women he hacked to death with a meat cleaver more than five years ago will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Christopher Ken Ireland, 42, was handed a life sentence without parole by an Orange County Superior court judge for the 2017 killings of 59-year-old Yolanda Holtrey and 49-year-old Michelle Luke, according to a sentencing order obtained by Oxygen.com.

Ireland was found guilty of murder and arson following a jury trial in November. During trial, he testified he’d used a hatchet to murder both women following a New Years Eve party, after Holtrey caught him having sex with Luke. During the murder Ireland's wife and his 11-year-old child waited in a vehicle parked outside, according to Los Angeles news station KTTV.

“I don’t know that I have often, if ever, seen a crime a callous as what you did in this case,” Orange County Superior Court Judge Sheila Hanson said, the Mercury News reported.

The presiding judge described the pair of slayings as “violent, vicious and brutal.”

“This is a crime of unbelievable brutality and callousness,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer told Oxygen.com in a statement on Monday afternoon. “For someone to be able to methodically butcher two women while his wife and son waited in the car outside demonstrates an entirely new level of evil. He will spend the rest of his life in prison where he will no longer be able to prey on innocent women.”

Ireland carried out the “extremely violent” double murder at Holtrey's home on Jan. 1, 2017. 

The double murder was partially captured by home surveillance cameras installed at the property. 

“I kept going with a combination of fists and the knife,” Ireland told jurors during trial proceedings in November, according to the Mercury News. “I couldn’t stop. There was no feeling other than panic.”

Ireland later returned to the home, meticulously cleaned it, and dismantled the home security system, court documents stated. He also removed Holtrey and Luke’s bodies, which he dumped in a wooded area in Newport Beach. Ireland later set Holtrey’s home ablaze in an attempt to destroy evidence. At the time of the fire, the residence was occupied by two other individuals.

Holtrey and Luke’s bodies were recovered the following day. Autopsies revealed that Holtrey had suffered multiple blunt force trauma injuries, as well as sharp force injuries to her chest, face, and left neck. She also appeared to have been strangled. Luke sustained several skull fractures and cuts to her face. Both women’s noses were broken in the deadly attack.

Ireland’s sperm was found on Luke’s body, according to a sexual assault swab.

Ireland was later charged with two counts of murder, as well, as arson of an inhabited property, according to a copy of the case’s criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com.

Ireland’s wife and Holtrey were co-workers at a department store, according to reports. 

“Our families have had to live with this bad dream for five years, and it will continue for the rest of our lives,” Fabian Garcia, Holtrey’s son, said. “Sitting in this courtroom and listening to the details of my mother’s murder has had to be one of the most difficult and traumatic things my family has ever had to do.”

Luke’s family members, meanwhile, described Ireland as “pure evil.”

“We have to spend our lives without Michele because of this diabolical murderer,” Mandee Figueroa, Luke’s sister, told the Mercury News.

Her sibling, she said, will be remembered as “beautiful, brilliant, big-hearted and beloved.”  

Ireland didn’t speak during his sentencing, according to reports.

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