SANTA ANA, Calif. – A Huntington Beach personal trainer was convicted today of two counts of first-degree murder with a special circumstance of multiple murders for executing a man he suspected of having a romantic relationship with his former girlfriend and shooting and killing a woman who resembled his ex-girlfriend inside the man’s Newport Beach condo on April 20, 2019.
Jamon Rayon Buggs, 47, of Huntington Beach was also convicted with one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, one count of attempted first-degree burglary, and a sentencing enhancement of personal discharge of firearm causing death.
Buggs, who has a prior strike for an assault on a police officer, faces a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 3, 2022.
Darren Donald Partch, 38, of Newport Beach, and Wendi Sue Miller, 48, of Costa Mesa were found shot to death inside a residence in the 2100 block of East 15th Street in Newport Beach in the early morning hours of April 21, 2019.
Partch had been previously threatened by Buggs on two prior occasions to stay away from his girlfriend. Partch said did not have a relationship with the woman but nevertheless agreed to stay away from her. There is no evidence that Miller, who had given Partch a ride home after meeting him a few hours prior, had any interaction with Buggs prior to the murders.
In the weeks leading up to the murders, Buggs was conducting computer searches to find information on Partch, including his cell phone number, current and former addresses, and photographs. Cell phone data also placed Buggs at Partch’s former and current residences numerous times, including the night Partch and Miller were murdered.
Eighteen hours after the murderers, Buggs attempted to break-in to the Irvine apartment he wrongly believed belonged to a chiropractor he suspected was also having a relationship with his ex-girlfriend. A woman in her living room spotted him and as Buggs climbed down from the balcony he fired a shot from the gun he was carrying. Police recovered the bullet and set up a surveillance of the Irvine complex. The next night Buggs, who matched the burglary suspect’s description, drove up in his Camaro.
Buggs was arrested following a high-speed pursuit and a multi-hour search through a residential neighborhood. A gun was located during the search that was later matched through ballistics to the murders of Partch and Miller and the shooting in Irvine. DNA matched Buggs to the weapons and bullets.
The defense argued this was a case of mistaken identity because Buggs’ ex-girlfriend had blonde wavy hair like Wendi Miller and the murders were committed in a dark room in the middle of the night, making it difficult for Buggs to distinguish if the woman he was shooting was his ex-girlfriend.
“Darren Partch and Wendi Miller were executed at the hands of a jealous ex-boyfriend who was hunting for the woman he was obsessed with. This was not a heat of passion crime; this was a systematic and methodical plot to exact revenge and eliminate his rivals – real or perceived,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “Tragically, Darren and Wendi were two innocent people who were not involved with Mr. Buggs and had no responsibility for the relationship issues he had with his ex-girlfriend; yet they paid the ultimate price with their lives. Even after he realized the woman he killed was not his ex-girlfriend, he continued working his way down his hit list to eliminate his rivals. And he would have kept hunting and killing if he hadn’t been arrested.”