Sentencing postponed for final defendant, El Monte man, in Turnbull Canyon throat slashing case

NORWALK — The sentencing for the last of three men convicted of slashing a woman’s throat and leaving her for dead in Turnbull Canyon in Whittier in 2009 was postponed Wednesday, officials said.
Edward Meraz, 27, of El Monte, was ordered to return to Norwalk Superior Court June 19 to be sentenced after being convicted in December of attempted murder, kidnapping, conspiracy and assault with a deadly weapon. He faces 34 years to life in prison.
Two other co-defendants have already been convicted and sentenced in connection with the brutal Aug. 4, 2009 attack on then-20-year-old Christina Martinez of Bellflower.
Vincent David Mendoza, 24, of El Monte, was also convicted in December of attempted murder, kidnapping, conspiracy and assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced in February to 36 years to life in prison, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
The third defendant, Jose Miguel Ayala, 30, pleaded no contest in March to one count of attempted murder and was sentenced to 39 years to life in prison. 
The three men, who were friend’s of their victim, told Martinez they were heading to the beach when they took her to Turnbull Canyon in Whittier, injected her with an unknown drug, bound her, beat her, slashed her throat, threw her over the side of the canyon and left her for dead, Martinez testified during the men’s trials.
After Meraz noticed she was still alive and moving, she testified, Mendoza climbed back down to her and slashed the back of her neck with a knife, according to Deputy District Attorney Greg Cernak, who prosecuted the case, said.
Though badly injured, Martinez was able to climb a steep hillside and ask for help at a home in the 6000 block of Altmark Avenue.
She ultimately testified in court against Mendoza and Meraz.
The three attackers were arrested after they were stopped in a car which contained items including a rope, a shovel, a bullet proof vest and syringes, officials said. Investigators said they appeared to be returning to the scene to bury the body.
An official motive in the attack has never been released by authorities, and the victim herself testified she did not know why she was targeted.
While Martinez testified that Ayala accused her of “setting (him) up” and “trying to kill (him),” she had no idea was he was talking about.

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