A judge sentenced a 28-year-old men to spend the rest of his life in a prison cell for fatally stabbing his then-14-year-old girlfriend’s grandparents to death as they slept in their bed in their Rosemead home nearly seven years ago.
A jury convicted Rodolfo Lopez late last year of two counts of first-degree murder, along with the special allegation of multiple murders for the Aug. 10, 2010, double-stabbing in the 4200 block of Arica Avenue, in which the elderly victims were stabbed more than 150 times, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and proscutors.
Jack Bezner, 71, and his wife Susan Bezner, 64, died in the attack, officials said.
Their granddaughter, then-14-year-old Sophia Cristo, lived with them. She carried out the attack with Lopez, then-21, after the grandparents discovered Cristo had been involved in a check forgery scam and threatened to notify authorities, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.
During Lopez’s appearance Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Judge Craig Richman sentenced the killer to life in prison without the possibility of parole, court officials said.
Jurors convicted Cristo in March of 2015 of the murders of her grandparents.
The jury also found true the special circumstances of lying in wait and multiple murders, as well as the special allegation that she personally used a knife to stab her grandmother. Susan Bezner was stabbed 112 times during the grisly attack.
Though the couple was attacked as they slept in their bed, evidence indicated they fought for their lives before ultimately succumbing to their wounds, prosecutors said.
Investigators found and arrested Lopez and Cristo two days after the murders as they were driving the Bezners’ stolen SUV through Horison City, Texas.
Though the special allegation of multiple murders made Lopez eligible for the death penalty, prosecutors did not seek capital punishment in the case.
Cristo was ineligible for capital punishment due to her age at the time of the slayings.
Cristo also faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when she returns to court for sentencing on July 18.
NORWALK >> A former international fugitive admitted on Thursday breaking into the home of his then-neighbor in Norwalk stabbing the 50-year-old disabled woman to death in 2012, authorities said.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 25, was captured in Guatemala two years after the Aug. 10, 2012, slaying of Denise Battey in the 11900 block of Allard Street, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
After nearly three more years awaiting trial, Difron pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree murder, along with the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a burglary, as well as the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the murder, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago.
Prosecutors initially accused Diofron of the additional special circumstance of murder during the commission of a rape. Under Thursday’s negotiated plea arrangement, the allegation of sexual assault was dismissed.
“(Diofron) broke into his neighbor’s home and fatally stabbed the 50-year-old woman,” Santiago said in a written statement. “Following the killing, the defendant fled to Guatemala where he remained for several years. (He) was located in December 2014 and extradited to Los Angeles County four months later.”
Diofron is expected to be receive a life term in prison without the possibility of parole when he returns to the Norwalk branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court for sentencing on July 19, Santiago said.
Diofron was living next-door to his victim while staying in the U.S. on a work visa, Detective Ray Lugo of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said shortly after his capture.
He attacked Denise Battey as she watered her garden during the early-morning hours, like she did every morning, according to investigators and her twin sister, Annese Battey.
Difron then dragged Denise Battey inside her home, where he stabbed her to death, officials said.
He then fled to his native Guatemala.
But detectives received a tip in late 2014 that the killer had been spotted near Guatemala City, Lugo said. Sheriff’s detectives, aided by Guatemalan police and the FBI, arrested Diofron without a struggle on Dec. 4, 2014. He was extradited back to the Los Angeles County to face justice four months later.
The victim was defenseless from her attacker, having just undergone back surgery and suffering from severe sciatica in her one of her legs.
Denise Battery worked for the U.S. Social Security Administration and tutored students on college preparation in her spare time, Annese Battery said. She was a fan of classic cinema and was known for handing out her homegrown tomatoes in her neighborhood.
Denise Battey dreamed of one day having a small home or condominium on the back, her sister said.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 25, [LEFT] pleaded guilty on Thursday, June 29, 2017 to the murder of neighbor Denise Battery, 50, of Norwalk [RIGHT] on Aug. 10, 2012. Difron was captured in his antive Guatemala two years after the murder. (Courtesy)
WHITTIER >> A group of teens stabbed and seriously injured a man following an argument in Uptown Whittier on Thursday afternoon, police said.
The attack took place about 6:50 p.m. in the 6700 block of Comstock Avenue, according to Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean.
A 25-year-old man was walking down the street when he exchanged words with a group of young men in their late-teens who appeared to be gang members, Dean said.
The teens followed the man as he walked down a breezeway, he said. “A fight ensues. The victim gets stabbed in the thigh.”
The knife severed the victim’s femoral artery, the lieutenant said. The man was taken to a hospital in where he was in stable condition.
A description of the attackers was not available.
Anyone with information can reach Whittier police at 562-567-9200. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
MONTEREY PARK >> A man died and two others were being detained for questioning after fight over a parking space escalated into a stabbing in Monterey Park early Saturday, authorities said.
The fatal stabbing took place about 12:25 a.m. in a residential neighborhood in the 1200 block of College View Drive, according to Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that the victim was involved in a verbal altercation with two other male Hispanic adults regarding a parking space,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. “During the course of the argument, a physical altercation occurred in which the victim was stabbed.”
The victim, described only as a man, was stabbed multiple times in the “upper body,” according to the statement.
He succumbed to his wounds at a hospital, Schrader said.
The two men believed to have been involved in the stabbing were detained for questioning.
“No other suspects are sought at this time,” the sheriff’s department statement said.
The sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is helping Monterey Park police with the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact homicide detectives at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
AZUSA >> Rescuers rushed a man to a trauma center after he was stabbed in Azusa late Friday, officials said.
The stabbing was reported shortly before 7:30 p.m. at or near a convenience store at Citrus Avenue and Gladstone Street, Azusa police Cpl. Jason Kimes said.
The victim, initially described as an Azusa man, then showed up at Foothill Presbyterian Hospital in Glendora, where doctors decided to have him flown by helicopter to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in Los Angeles for further treatment, he said.
An update on the victim’s condition was not immediately available, nor were details regarding the circumstances of the stabbing, according to the corporal.
Anyone with information can reach Azusa police at 626-812-3200. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
A Monterey Park man who attacked his wife in the shower — stabbing her 32 times with a pair of scissors, a meat cleaver and a hammer before she managed to escape — received 15 years to life in prison for the grisly crime, authorities said.
A Pasadena jury convicted Kam Hing Wong, 64, of attempted murder in May for the attack, which took place on March 31, 2016, at the couple’s home in the 1200 block of Newmark Avenue. They deliberated for less than a day before finding Wong guilty of the stabbing, as well as finding true the special allegations that he personally used deadly weapons during the crime, and that he inflicted great bodily injury on the victim.
He received his sentence Thursday from Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Curtis A. Kin, court officials said.
“Wong began his attack on his wife by stabbing her in the head with a pair of scissors while she was inside the shower at their Monterey Park home,” Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in written statement.
“According to court testimony, Wong continuously stabbed his wife on her neck, chest and back with the scissors as he told her that he wanted to kill her,” the statement said. “As the victim ran from the defendant, he continued to slash and stab her using a large kitchen knife, and later, a meat cleaver.”
The victim suffered 32 stab and slash wounds in all, prosecutors said.
Police responded to a report of a bloody, nude woman running in the street at Newmark Avenue and Monterey Pass Road , Monterey Park police Lt. Scott Wiese said at the time. They encountered the then-56-year-old victim.
A trail of blood quickly led them back to the couple’s home, where they found and arrested Wong in the backyard, according to police and prosecutors.
He’s pictured with blood on his head and shirt his booking photo.
The woman was taken to a hospital, where “hundreds of stitches” were needed to close her dozens of wounds, according to the district attorney’s office statement.
Authorities were not aware of any specific argument or issue that preceded the unprovoked attack, District Attorney’s office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
Wong and the victim were married two or three years prior to the attack, after Wong’s previous wife died, he said.
The stabbing was believed to have been motivated by a general “disillusion with his new marriage,” Santiago said.
PHOTO: Kam Hing Wong, 64, is pictured with blood on his head and shirt in this police booking photo. He was convicted of attempted murder in May, 2017, for stabbing his wife 32 times at their home in the 1200 block of Newmark Avenue in Monterey Park on March 31, 2016. He was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison on Thursday, June 8, 2017. (Courtesy)
DIAMOND BAR >> County officials renewed a $20,000 reward this week for information leading to the capture and conviction of the person or people who “savagely” stabbed a Diamond Bar couple to death during an apparent home-invasion robbery last year.
A family friend who went to check on Chen “David” Long Wang, 60, and Mei “Marian” Chu Chung, 57, found them stabbed to death on Oct. 20, 2016, at their house in the 3300 block of Bent Twig Lane, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials.
Between $10,000 and $15,000 in cash was believed to have been stolen from the couple’s home during the crime, Lt. Steve Katz of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau said. He described the double-slaying as “savage” and “brutal.”
The case remains unsolved.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors offered a $20,000 reward for information on the slaying in March. The reward west set to expire this week, prompting Supervisor Janice Hahn and the Board of Supervisors to renew the reward on Tuesday for another 90 days.
The $20,000 in reward money offered by the county is complimented by another $10,000 in reward money offered in the case by the City of Diamond Bar, for a total available reward of $30,000.
Wang was described by family and investigators as a retired computer programmer, and Chung was a retired teacher and art instructor. They are survived by two children, who are both medical doctors, and several grandchildren.
“If you have any information pertaining to the murder of Marian and David, I urge you to come forward. They deserve justice. Their children and grandchildren deserve answers,” Hahn said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted
Anyone with information related to the murder should call sheriff’s homicide Detectives Margarita Barron or Dameron Peyton at (323) 890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PASADENA >> A Pasadena man is accused of assault with a deadly weapon after an argument over noise with his roommate escalated into a stabbing early Tuesday, police said.
Jorge Olguin, 23, was arrested following the 4 a.m. incident at an apartment in the 400 block of North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said.
The suspect and his roommate, a 53-year-old man, got into an argument after the older man accused his roommate of making too much noise, according to the lieutenant.
“The argument progressed to the point where the suspect armed himself with a knife,” Goodman said. “The suspect lunged at victim.
“The victim was able to dodge the knife, for the most part,” he said. The victim suffered a 4-inch cut to the back of his neck that was not considered to be life-threatening.
Police found Olguin at the scene and arrested him without a struggle, Goodman said. He was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.
Police collected the kitchen knife believed to have been used in the attack as evidence, he added.
PASADENA >> A stabbing victim showed up at a Pasadena emergency room Thursday night, but refused to provide details about what happened to him, police said.
A 20-year-old Pasadena man arrived at Huntington Hospital about 9:25 p.m. with stab wounds to his rib cage and back, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said.
“The victim told officers he was walking in the area of Oakland Avenue and Villa Street when he was stabbed by an unknown suspect with an unknown object,” according to Goodman. “The victim refused to provide further information and was not cooperative with investigative efforts.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact Pasadena police at 626-74474241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.