HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A La Puente man who lived as a fugitive in Mexico for three years before his capture is guilty of murdering his girlfriend in 2011 and dumping her body in Hacienda Heights, a jury found Friday.
A jury at the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court deliberated for less than a day before convicting Francisco Nila Rojas of first-degree murder for the Feb. 18, 2011, slaying of 41-year-old Claudia Tecuautzin of La Puente, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
The jury also found true the special allegation that Rojas personally used a gun. He faces up to 50 year to life in state prison at his sentencing, scheduled Monday, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
After shooting Tecuautzin in the head, he dumped her body down an embankment along Turnbull Canyon, near Skyline Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said. A passer-by discovered her remains on March 2, 2011. It took coroner’s investigators several weeks to identify the body, due to the condition in which it was found.
“According to evidence presented at trial, Rojas stole money from Tecuautzin’s bank accounts before and after she was killed,” according to Ardalani.
“Additionally, a Ford Explorer that Rojas and the victim co-owned contained remnants of the victim’s blood. Also, the car’s passenger floor was bleached.”
Further cementing Rojas’ guilt, prosecutors learned that Rojas had purchased a gun on Feb. 12, 2011, less than a week before the slaying took place, Ardalani said. “The same gun was consistent with bullet fragments recovered from the victim’s head, according to expert testimony.”
But by the time the victim and suspect had been identified, the killer had fled the country.
Rojas, a Mexican national, fled to Mexico five days after the killing, according to Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
He was captured in Mexico in 2014, then extradited back to Los Angeles County to face trial in October of 2015.