20-year-old convicted in brutal stabbing

FLORENCE, AZ - Pinal County officials say a 20-year-old Apache Junction man has been convicted of first-degree murder in the brutal stabbing death of a 17-year-old.

Officials said in a news release that David Paulson was 17 years old when he told his 16-year-old girlfriend he was going to kill Randall Davis-Mercier, also 17.

In the early morning hours of June 20, 2008, Paulson's girlfriend, Maeghan Rice, drove a pickup truck to pick up Davis-Mercier, with Paulson hiding in the back under a blanket.

Once Davis-Mercier was in the pickup truck and Rice said a code word, Paulson began stabbing him.

Officials said Davis-Mercier was stabbed as many as 20 times but was able to flee the vehicle and later died from his injuries.

His body was found in a ditch near Paulson's father's home in Apache Junction, according to officials.

Paulson went to Utah where he was taken into custody later the same day.

Rice was arrested and pled to second-degree murder and cooperated with authorities, officials said.

Paulson faces either 25-years to life or natural life in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 12.

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