A Lancaster County jury deliberated about 30 minutes Thursday before convicting a man of first-degree murder in the 2013 killing of 36-year-old Parrish Thaxton.
Mario Casanova-Lanzo, 42, faces a mandatory, life-in-prison term when he stands for sentencing Sept. 26 before County Judge Howard F. Knisely.
Casanova-Lanzo broke into the home of his estranged wife on Feb. 20, 2013, and shot Thaxton, twice with a shotgun at close range, in a bedroom, according to trial testimony.
Thaxton was the boyfriend of the estranged wife, who also was home along with a boy.
“He assassinated Parrish Thaxton,” Assistant District Attorney Mark Fetterman said in closing argument Thursday morning. “He (Casanova-Lanzo) had a plan.”
And that is what the jury decided in returning a guilty verdict to first-degree murder, a killing done with premeditation and a specific intent to kill.
“What else was he intending to do” (When he shot Thaxton first in the chest and then in the face)? Fetterman said in closings.
During the four-day trial, Fetterman called the estranged wife (she and Casanova-Lanzo since divorced) and the child who was home at the time.
Fetterman also showed the jurors letters Casanova-Lanzo wrote which contained admissions to killing Thaxton.
In one letter, Casanova-Lanzo wrote that he shot Thaxton once, then “finished him off” with a second shot.
A forensic pathologist who conducted Thaxton’s autopsy testified that either shot would have been fatal.
Casanova-Lanzo also was convicted of felony burglary. He broke a window to enter the North Third Street home.
Columbia police Sgt. James Jacobs filed charges. Assistant District Attorney Amber Czerniakowski assisted in prosecution.
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