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UPDATE: Former Saugus High student to stand trial in mother’s killing

Special circumstance allegations mean death sentence could be possible

Posted: February 4, 2014 12:24 p.m.
Updated: February 4, 2014 7:41 p.m.
Laura Lutrell Purviance Laura Lutrell Purviance
Laura Lutrell Purviance

VAN NUYS — A former Saugus High School student was ordered to stand trial Tuesday on a charge of murder in the shooting death of her mother a year ago.

Laura Lutrell Purviance, 25, wearing a yellow jail-issued top, was led handcuffed into Van Nuys Superior Court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing to determine if she should be tried for her mother’s murder.

Purviance was held to answer to one count of murder with a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait following the preliminary hearing presided over by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Kellogg. She is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 18.

Sitting erect beside her lawyer, wearing glasses and looking at detectives testifying about the Feb. 13, 2013, shooting, Purviance watched the proceedings intently.

Caroline Sue Purviance, 61, who raised a family in the Santa Clarita Valley and worked as a special education instructional assistant at three local high schools, was found dead inside her daughter’s home on Mason Avenue in Woodland Hills on Valentine’s Day last year.

Three homicide detectives testified at her daughter’s preliminary hearing, including one veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department who said he received a phone call from Laura Purviance at 3 a.m. Feb. 15, 2013.

The two talked for 45 minutes, said Detective Jeffrey Briscoe.

“She told me she was sorry and that she shot her mom,” he said.

Laura Purviance, who attended Saugus High in the early 200s but transferred to Sequoia Charter School her senior year, was apprehended in Oregon the same day she talked to Briscoe. She was driving her mother’s vehicle.

At one point during questioning, Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Ratinoff asked Briscoe how long Laura Purviance had planned to kill her mother.

“As I recall, she had been contemplating it most of her life,” Briscoe said. “It wasn’t just a spur of the moment. She decided now was the time to put her plan into action.”

According to what Purviance reportedly told Briscoe, she put her plan into action the day she asked her mother to drive her to her boyfriend’s house in Hollywood.

“She knew specifically there was a .45-caliber weapon under the bed,” the detective testified.

“She said she needed a book for school and she wrapped the gun into a shirt and placed in it in a messenger bag,” Briscoe said. “She said she got the gun that was under the bed.”

After Laura Purviance secured the gun, she and her mother returned to the daughter’s Woodland Hills home and she offered her Carolyn Purviance lemon bars, her favorite, Briscoe said.

While her mother was sitting on the bed making notes about new cabinets for the residence, the daughter took the gun into a bathroom to load it, running the water to disguise the “click” of chambering a bullet, Briscoe said.

“She said she peeked out of the bathroom door to see if her mother was still seated,” he said.

“She walked up to her mother, behind her and within a foot of her,” Briscoe said. “She said she fired a shot into the base of her head, where she was aiming.”

Ratinoff said prosecutors haven’t decided whether to seek the death penalty against Laura Purviance.
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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