Soldier found guilty of first-degree murder in triple homicide with ties to 'furry' community
By SEAN EMERY | The Orange County Register | Published: November 9, 2018
SANTA ANA, Calif. (Tribune News Service) — A 23-year-old Army mechanic who confessed to killing a Fullerton couple and their friend in order to “save” a teen he believed was being sexually abused was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder.
A Santa Ana jury convicted Joshua Acosta of the special circumstances killings of Christopher Yost, 34, his wife, Jennifer Yost, 39, and their friend, Arthur “Billy” Boucher, 28, who prosecutors said were ambushed and executed while they slept in a Fullerton home in the early morning of Sept. 24, 2016.
Acosta, who was stationed at Fort Irwin, told police that he carried out the killings in order to protect the Yost’s oldest daughter, then-17-year-old Katlynn Goodwill. Acosta met Goodwill, along with her parents and co-defendant Frank Felix, in the “furry” community, made up of people who like to dress up as animals and take on their personas.
In a recorded confession played during the trial, Acosta described using a shotgun to shoot Boucher in the head while he slept on a couch, shooting Jennifer Yost between the eyes in her bedroom, then shooting Christopher Yost as he tried to flee from the Fullerton home. Acosta told detectives that the Yost family was a “festering wound” that he had “cauterized,” while Boucher was “collateral damage.”
Acosta’s attorney, Adam Vining, told jurors that Goodwill manipulated Acosta, alleging that the teen wanted her parents dead. Vining said Acosta is autistic, and is overly trusting of people and naive.
Goodwill testified that Christopher Yost, her stepfather, molested her on a weekly basis between the ages of 7 and 15. Goodwill alleged that Felix, another friend she met in the furry community, had “blackmailed” her into having sex with him by threatening to tell her mother about the alleged sexual abuse.
Goodwill said that on the night of the killings she was planning to tell her mother about the alleged abuse, and had asked Felix and Acosta to help her run away from home. She testified that she let Acosta into her parent’s home, then waited with Felix in Acosta’s truck after Acosta entered the residence.
In his confession, Acosta said Goodwill knew nothing about his plan to kill her parents. The teen testified that she wasn’t aware of their deaths until notified by police.
Goodwill acknowledged that she had previously lied to police and prosecutors about who carried out the alleged abuse and who she had told about it. Shown messages she wrote about friction with her mother, in which she made remarks about killing someone, Goodwill explained that she wrote some of the messages under another persona and didn’t recall others.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino told jurors that there is likely no way authorities will ever know if there was any truth to the sexual assault allegations. But the prosecutor said regardless of whether Goodwill influenced Acosta, he was still responsible for the killings.
Goodwill was granted immunity to testify against Acosta. Felix is being tried separately for his alleged role in the killings.
Acosta is scheduled to return to court for sentencing on Dec. 14. He faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.