LOS ANGELES — A hearing in the case of a teenage girl and her 22-year-old boyfriend charged with stabbing the girl’s grandparents to death in their Rosemead home was continued Wednesday, authorities said.
Sophia Janalisa Cristo and Rodolfo Lopez are accused of murdering Jack Bezner, 71, and his wife, Susan, 64, on Aug. 9, 2010.
They were scheduled for their second arraignment Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, however the hearing was postponed until Sept. 7, court officials said.
At an arraignment, the charges are read and the defendants asked to enter a plea. Defendants generally get two arraignments — one shortly after arrest and another as the case moves toward trial.
The Bezners were found stabbed to death in their bed in the 4200 block of Arica Avenue.
A motive in the crime has not been released.
Cristo, then-14, and Lopez, then-21, were found and arrested in Texas, where the Bezners SUV was recovered.
In addition to the killings, they’ve both been accused of the special allegations of multiple murder and personally using a knife in the crime.
Cristo is not eligible for the death penalty because of her age. Prosecutors have not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty for Lopez.
From City News Service:
ROSEMEAD — A 15-year-old girl and her 21-year-old boyfriend were ordered Wednesday to stand trial for the stabbing deaths of her grandparents at the couple’s Rosemead home last summer.Sophia Janalisa Cristo and Rodolfo Lopez are charged with murdering Jack Bezner, 71, and his 64-year-old wife, Susan, who were found dead in their bed last Aug. 9 at their home in the 4200 block of Arica Avenue.The murder charge includes the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, along with the allegations that the two each used a knife and inflicted great bodily injury on the victims.Prosecutors will decide later in the case whether to seek the death penalty against Lopez.Cristo, who was 14 at the time but was charged as an adult, is not eligible for the death penalty because of her age.The two were arrested last Aug. 11 in Horizon City, Texas, after detectives learned they might be on their way there in the Bezners’ missing Nissan sport utility vehicle.Cristo and Lopez are due back at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse on June 8 for arraignment.
ROSEMEAD — An armed robber escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash Friday after a shoe store hold-up, authorities said.
The crime took place about 7:15 p.m. when a man brandishing a handgun entered a Payless shoe store on San Gabriel Boulevard, just north of Garvey Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Kerry Carter said.
The robber was described as a white or Latino man, about 6 feet tall, 230 pounds, with a shaved head.
ROSEMEAD — For the second time in less than two months, a house fire believed to have been sparked by a marijuana-growing operation led authorities to discover more than 1,000 pot plants.
The blaze was reported about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 2600 block of Kelburn Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Pat Dolan said.
It resulted in the seizure of “hundreds and hundreds” of marijuana plants from the home, preliminarily valued at about $200,000, Capt. Joe Fennell of the sheriff’s Temple Station said.
More than 1,200 plants were uprooted altogether, officials said.
“What we found out was this location was used solely for marijuana growing,” Fennell said.
The irrigation, lighting and electrical work done to create the pot farm, “:definitely took some level of expertise,” he added.
Neighbors reported the fire at the two-story house, and firefighters found smoke coming from the home on arrival, Dolan said.
After cutting their way through a security door, firefighters were greeted by hundreds of marijuana plants in various stages of maturity in a sophisticated grow operation complete with irrigation and lighting, officials said.
“The house really wasn’t set up to live in,” Dolan said. “It had one couch, but everything else was for (growing marijuana.)”
Marijuana plants were growing throughout the home, which had had its electrical system re-wired to bypass Southern California Edison’s electric meters, officials said.
The homemade electrical modifications are believed to be the cause of the fire, Dolan said.
“They had set up their own power system. One of the outlets was overloaded,” he said.
The spark from the electrical outlet ignited some window blinds, he added.
The fire was largely contained to a single room on the home’s second floor and caused about $1,000 worth of damage, officials said. The first floor was not damaged.
No one was in the home when authorities arrived, and no arrests were made Thursday, Fennell said.
Narcotics investigators will continue investigating in the coming days, he added, and will be seeking the residents of the home.
Wednesday’s pot house fire was the second such incident in the area in less than two months, according to fire and sheriff’s officials.
An Aug. 31 house fire less than a mile to the south in the 1900 block of Portrero Grande in the unincorporated county area of South San Gabriel led deputies to discover more than 1,000 marijuana plants, investigators said.
The operation was believed to have been tied to Asian gangs, officials said.
Fennell said it it was not yet clear is Thursday’s pot house in Rosemead was connected to the South San Gabriel grow house or Asian gangs.
It’s too early in the preliminary investigation to make that determination,” he said.
As firefighters increasingly encounter marijuana-growing operations when they respond to fires, firefighters have become “painfully aware” of dangerous possibilities such as booby traps, explosives, chemicals or other hazardous contents, Dolan said.
“I just think we’re a little bit more cognizant now when we go on these fires,” he said. “It’s something to look out for.”
“Once we realize these are grow houses, we proceed very cautiously,” Dolan said.
The smoke from burning marijuana is not a significant problem for firefighters, as they generally bring their own air supply and breathing equipment when fighting fires.