Gustine -- A 64-year-old man arrested in a fatal Gustine stabbing was convicted of first-degree murder by a Merced County jury Thursday afternoon.
It took the jury of eight women and four men less than a day to find Adam John Sinegal guilty of killing Robert Smith, 62, at a residence in the 700 block of South Avenue in Gustine on June 7, 2011.
Sinegal has children with the victim's stepdaughter, Javeena Lowery. Lowery and Sinegal were living in Smith's home with several children at the time of the stabbing.
The prosecution said Sinegal stabbed Smith out of anger as Lowery and the victim were having an argument. Witnesses testified that children in the house had been quarreling over dominoes, and Smith and Lowery began arguing about how they should be disciplined.
After the verdict was read, Chief Deputy District Attorney Harold Nutt said he was pleased with the jury's decision.
The prosecutor thanked Gustine police for their professionalism in handling the case. "I think the jury carefully listened to evidence, matched the facts with the law, and this is the natural result of it," Nutt said.
Sinegal showed no expression after the verdict was announced.
Deputy Public Defender Caleb Hegland had argued during the trial that Sinegal killed Smith because he thought the victim was beating Lowery.
"I am disappointed, and Adam is disappointed, but he knew this could happen and he was prepared for it," Hegland said.
Sinegal is scheduled to be sentenced to a mandatory 25 years to life prison term Oct. 25 by Judge Donald J. Proietti.
City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.