Man who killed ex’s daughters in Lemon Grove sentenced to life without parole

EL CAJON (CNS) – A man who shot and killed his ex-girlfriend’s twin 15- year-old daughters in Lemon Grove was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Dwayne Edward Groves Jr., 41, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other charges for fatally shooting Caira Rachel Christopher and Leah Sylvania Christopher on April 15, 2020, at their Central Avenue home.

Groves’ life without parole sentence includes an additional 72 years to life in state prison.

At his arraignment in early 2020, Deputy District Attorney Meredith Pro alleged that shortly before Groves arrived at the home, he called his former girlfriend, Joann Hoyt, and told her “he had figured it all out and had a plan.”

Along with fatally shooting the two girls, Groves beat Hoyt’s 22-year- old son with the gun.

Hoyt and her other children were in the home at the time, but were able to escape during the shooting. Sheriff’s deputies searched the area with help from a patrol helicopter and found Groves hiding in a backyard a few houses away from the shooting scene.

At his sentencing hearing, Hoyt said Groves “played the nice guy” and “acted with what appeared to be love and compassion” during their six- year relationship. She said the girls spoke highly of him and considered him a father figure.

“He won over our hearts to later break them,” she said. “He was evil living in our home waiting to steal our joy.”

The girls’ grandmother, Karen Hoyt, told Groves, “You betrayed us. We welcomed you and accepted you into our family.”

Their grandfather, David Hoyt, said Groves’ two young daughters were in the home at the time of the shooting and continue to be affected by what happened.

“That very day, they lost their sisters. They lost their home, the home where they always felt safe and secure. You, their very own daddy, took it all away,” he said.

Groves declined to make a statement during the hearing, which defense attorney Amber Kirchenschlager said should not indicate a lack of remorse.

“I’ve never had a more remorseful client,” the attorney said.

Kirchenschlager said she believes Groves suffers from a brain injury that played a role in the killings, but he nonetheless pleaded guilty to avoid putting the victims’ family through a trial.

In a statement issued after the hearing, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said, “Anytime that a human being is murdered, there is a sense of deep loss and pain; however, when the lives of innocent children are stolen, we are left with a gaping wound. This was an unspeakable crime that took the lives of two innocent twin girls who were just beginning their lives.

Nothing can make up for the devastation the defendant caused to the family of the victims, but I hope this sentence provides a measure of justice and healing.”

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