Crime - Sacto 911

Life sentence for 1980 slaying of Tahoe teenager

A man convicted last year of the 1980 slaying of a 16-year-old gas station attendant in South Lake Tahoe has been sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

An El Dorado County jury in April 2014 found Andrew Sanford, 53, guilty of first-degree murder with special circumstances in the death of Richard Swanson. On Monday, El Dorado Superior Court Judge James Wagoner denied Sanford’s motion for a new trial and imposed the life sentence, according to an El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office news release.

Swanson had been working only three weeks at his first job as the graveyard shift gas station attendant at the South Y Gas Station when he was killed by Sanford, then 19, on Aug. 14, 1980. Six hours after arriving for his shift, Swanson was found dead in the back storage room of the gas station. Authorities said he had been beaten, wrapped in duct tape and left to suffocate. It was later determined that $761.02 in cash was missing from the gas station register.

Sanford moved from South Lake Tahoe the same day, authorities said.

In 2007, El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson created the DA’s Office Cold Case Homicide Unit and worked with law enforcement to form a Cold Case Task Force, including representatives of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office, as well as a senior criminalist from the California Department of Justice.

The task force investigated the Swanson case, conducted interviews and re-evaluated forensic evidence collected in 1980. The duct tape used on the victim contained traces of DNA, and this DNA profile was uploaded into the Combined DNA Index System, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Sanford’s DNA sample was taken during his booking on unrelated criminal charges, and in January 2011 it was determined that his DNA matched the DNA on the duct tape used to suffocate Swanson, authorities said. Sanford was arrested March 28, 2012, and charged with first-degree murder.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.