Former Muir High teacher pleads no contest in 2008 murder case

This from the District Attorney’s Office:

PASADENA – A former high school history teacher today pleaded no contest to first-degree murder in the 2008 slaying of an Arcadia man, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Russell Moore of the Pasadena Branch Office said Brandon Michael Landreth, 33, also admitted using a handgun to carry out the killing.

Pasadena Superior Court Judge Dorothy Shubin said Landreth would be sentenced on Feb. 22. He is expected to be sentenced to 35 years to life in state prison, under the terms of a negotiated settlement.

Landreth, a former teacher and chess coach at John Muir High School in Pasadena, was alleged to have fatally shot Justo Cesar Morales, 25, on March 30, 2008 at the victim’s Arcadia home.

According to evidence presented at a 2009 preliminary hearing, Landreth’s ex-wife had been in a relationship with Morales during the year after she separated from Landreth.

Arcadia police arrested Landreth on April 2, 2008. The defendant has remained in custody since.

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Sex offender killed in state prison


ARCADIA – A serial child molester convicted of assaulting a 5-year-old girl inside an Arcadia bookstore in 2008 and sent to prison in September for 30 years was beaten to death by his cellmate, prison officials said Wednesday.

Jaime Elizondo, 30, of San Gabriel was killed by cellmate Steven Cisneros, said Lt. Charlie Hahn, spokesman for the High Desert State Prison. Elizondo was convicted of exposing himself to the victim inside a Borders bookstore at an Arcadia mall in 2008. The assault was captured on the store’s video system.

A witness confronted Elizondo and later found his photo on a Web site listing registered sex offenders and gave police the information.
Here’s our original post on the story with a photo of the molestation.

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Arcadia to probe possible link between robberies there and in Monterey Park

From reporter Thomas Himes:

Arcadia police said Friday they will investigate a possible link between the Monterey Park robbery and two robberies that occurred in that city in November, Arcadia police Sgt. Tom Le Veque said.

“There are some similarities in suspect descriptions and the circumstances surrounding the crime,” Le Veque said. “But it’s way too early to say anything is related.” recovered a Porsche in Alhambra that was stolen during a home invasion robbery in Monterey Park, officials said Friday.

Six people were bound with zip ties and one man was pistol-whipped during the robbery that occurred at 3:15 a.m. Thursday in the 500 block of Whitney Place.

Tipsters alerted police after they recognized the Porsche’s description from a news report, Monterey Park police Sgt. Frank Duke said.

“They called and said they saw this Porsche in the news,” Duke said.

The Porsche was located in good condition near West Garvey and Montezuma avenues in Alhambra about 7 p.m., Duke said.

“We did recover some evidence out of the Porsche,” Duke said. “We will process it and hopefully get some traceable evidence,” Duke said.

Police brought a man in for questioning about 6 p.m., but later released him, Duke said.

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Reward offered in Arcadia sushi bar slaying

Supervisor Mike Antonovich plans to offer a $20,000 reward in the 2007 slaying of Jason Wei, owner of an Arcadia Sushi restaurant, who was slain execution-style by an armed gunmen.

Here’s some of Antonovich’s press release:


LOS ANGELES COUNTY–Supervisor Antonovich will hold a joint press conference with detectives from the City of Arcadia Police Department, offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the death of Mr. Jason Wei, owner of the Osaka Ya Sushi Restaurant .

On November 25, 2007, at approximately 9:24 p.m., Mr. Jason Wei (Way), owner of the Osaka Ya Sushi Restaurant, located at 815 W. Naomi Ave in Arcadia, was shot and killed by an armed robber who entered through the rear door of the restaurant.

The incident was captured on surveillance video; however, none of the leads has produced a suspect.

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Arcadia’s most wanted

The Arcadia Police Department has set up a Web page  listing its most wanted criminals.

Not a top ten list, like the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted, but certainly a valuable tool for Arcadia police.

Here’s who they are looking for:

Two suspects in an armed robbery, described as male Hispanics in their 20s.

A man, possibly Hispanic, suspected of burglarizing a jewelry store on Las Tunas.

Check out the Web site for composite drawings and pictures. And call the cops at *626) 574-5151 if you know any of these characters.

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“He died quickly”

Brandon Michael Landreth, 30, a onetime English teacher at Muir High School in Pasadena, was ordered to stand trial this afternoon in Superior Court.

Landreth is accused in the April 2008 shooting death of Justo Ceaser Morales, 25.

Morales was shot to death at his parents home on a Sunday afternoon, and witnesses described the killer as fleeing the scene on a skateboard.

Landreth later confessed to his ex-wife that he had killed Morales, officials said. He is being held on $5 million bail. There are allegations, of threats and stalking that, if true, make Landreth seem like one creepy teacher. Here’s the story:

Prosecutors outlined the case against Landreth at a preliminary hearing Thursday. A friend of Landreth, Gerald Gracian, and Landreth’s ex-wife, Tania, both claimed he had confessed to shooting and killing Morales.

Tania Landreth testified that the defendant had met her on her front lawn in the days after Morales’ death and confessed to killing Morales.

“I asked, ‘Was he in pain?'” she recounted tearfully. “He told me, ‘He died quickly.'”
She also said that Landreth had made threats against Morales’ life close to 100 times over the course of two years.

Landreth’s attorney pointed out that police were unsuccessful in their attempts to tape Landreth’s confession by wiring Tania.


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Ortega’s horse Return of the King returns to track this p.m.

Return of the King, the JJO Stables horse owned by Joseph and James Ortega, runs the second race at Santa Anita this afternoon. Post time is about 1:30 p.m.

Here’s today’s program. Return of the King is the 5/2 morning line favorite.

The Ortegas were among nine people slain in Covina on Christmas Eve by Bruce Pardo. All the slain were members of the same family and relatives of Pardo’s estranged wife Sylvia.

As for the race, its a 6 furlong claimer, with prices between $40,000 and $35,000.  — which means the horse is for sale and could be claimed by another owner this afternoon.

Martin Pedroza will ride. The consensus of handicappers working for the SGVN predicts Return of the King will find the winner’s circle.



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