Man guilty in double-slaying of ex-girlfriend’s grandparents in Rosemead

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ROSEMEAD >> A jury convicted a man of fatally stabbing his then-14-year-old girlfriend’s grandparents more than 150 times in their Rosemead home six years ago.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for two days before convicting Rodolfo Lopez of two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the Aug. 9, 2010, slayings of Jack Bezner, 71, and Susan Bezner, 64, at their home in the 4200 block of Arica Avenue, according to Los Angeles County District Attorneys’ officials.
His former girlfriend, 20-year-old Sophia Cristo, was convicted in March of 2015 of two counts of first-degree murder, prosecutors said. Jurors also found true the special circumstances of lying in wait and multiple murders, along with the special allegation that she personally used a knife to stab her grandmother, who was wounded 112 times.
Both Jack and Susan Bezner were attacked as they slept in bed, officials said. Evidence indicated they fought for their lives, Deputy District Attorney Scott McPheron told jurors during Cristo’s trial.
Cristo lived with her grandparent prior the brutal slayings, officials said. It was alleged Cristo orchestrated the killings over a dispute with her grandparents.
“The prosecutor argued in his closing that Cristo had been involved in a check forgery scam,” district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
“The grandparents found out. They threatened to put her in juvenile hall,” Ardalani said. Cristo then allegedly decided to kill them.
Cristo and Lopez are both expected to receive life prison terms, without the possibility of parole, when they return to court for sentencing on Jan. 24, Ardalani said.
Cristo was not eligible for the death penalty because she was a juvenile at the time of the crimes, though she was charged as an adult. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty against Lopez, who was 21 at the time of the double murder, Ardalani said.
Prosecutors argued that Lopez personally wielded the knife in Jack Bezner’s slaying, however jurors did not find that allegation to be true, Ardalani said.
Police apprehended Lopez and Cristo two days after the murders, according to El Paso Sheriff’s Department Deputy Jesse Tovar.
Authorities used a LoJack vehicle anti-theft system to track the suspects down as they drove through Horison City, Texas, in the Bezners’ SUV.

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Man guilty of murder for drowning death of baby daughter in Pasadena


PASADENA >> A jury convicted a man of murder and child abuse Wednesday for drowning his 1-year-old daughter five years ago in Pasadena, authorities said.
The jury deliberated for one day before finding Marquise Jackson, 26, of Lancaster guilty of first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death in connection with the May 20, 2011, drowning of Mo’Nayjah Jackson according to Pasadena police and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials.
“According to the evidence presented at trial, Jackson drowned baby Mo’Nayjah Jackson at the apartment of the child’s mother, in the 100 block of West Del Mar Boulevard in Pasadena while the mother was at work,” district attorney’s office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said in a written statement.
Shortly after his arrest, Jackson admitted the killing, Pasadena police Lt. Tracey Ibarra said at the time. ”He (said he) wanted to be alleviated of his responsibilities of being a father,” she said.
Jackson later denied the charges and unsuccessfully argued he was mentally incompetent to stand trial for the crime.
Jackson faces 25 years to life in state prison when he returns to the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court on Aug. 12.

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Man convicted of murder for 2014 Monterey Park stabbing

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MONTEREY PARK >> A jury convicted a South San Gabriel man Friday of murder for the seemingly random fatal stabbing of another man in a Monterey Park parking lot in 2014, authorities said.
An Alhambra Superior Court jury found Angel Octavion Garcia, now-20, guilty of second-degree murder for the Oct. 14 slaying of Alhambra Parks and Recreation Department employee Edward Mendoza, 35, in a commercial parking lot in the 1700 block of Portrero Grande, near Arroyo Drive, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.
Jurors also found true the special circumstance that Garcia personally used a knife in the murder, she said. The deliberations took about one day.
He faces 16 years to life in state prison when he returns to court for sentencing April 8.
Garcia and Mendoza were strangers when they encountered one another by chance in the parking lot about 9:10 p.m., according to prosecutors and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
“It appears Mendoza was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Ardalani said.
Garcia, who was 18 at the time, stabbed Mendoza, “after he was humiliated over a failed drug transaction involving another person from earlier in the night,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Though Mendoza had nothing to do with the prior incident, “The defendant took his anger out on Mendoza,” the statement said.
The men briefly argued before Garcia pulled a knife and stabbed Mendoza once in the upper torso, Lt. John Corina of the sheriff’s homicide bureau said shortly after the killer’s capture.
Mendoza managed to call 911 after being wounded, according to Deputy District Attorney Theodore Swanson, who prosecuted the case.
He managed only to tell the dispatcher he had been stabbed in the heart, and gave his location, before the line went silent.
Paramedics found Mendoza collapsed in the parking lot, officials said. He succumbed to his injuries at a hospital about an hour later.
Garcia initially escaped capture.
“Soon after the incident, a person came forward to police and revealed Garcia had confessed to the stabbing a man,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
Deputies found and arrested Garcia at his home on Oct. 22, eight days after the fatal attack. He denied the charges.
Mendoza had worked part-time as a recreation leader for Alhambra’s Parks and Recreation Department since 2001, city officials said. He had also begun refereeing kids’ football games at Almansor Park in Alhambra, coworkers said.
“It was a tragic case that resulted in the death of what appears to be a man who had a number of family and friends who loved him,” Swanson said.
Loved one’s have created a tribute video for Mendoza, which can be viewed online at www.eddiemendoza.org.

PHOTO: Edward Mendoza, 35, of Monterey Park was fatally stabbed late Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, in a commercial parking lot in the 1700 block of South Portrero Grande Drive in Monterey Park. Angel Octavion Garcia, 20, of South San Gabriel, was convicted of the murder on Friday, March 18, 2016. (Courtesy)

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Phil Spector guilty of murder

A jury found music producer Phil Spector guilty of second degree murder for the killing of actress Lana Carkson.

Here’s the top of the AP story:

LOS ANGELES — Rock music producer Phil Spector has been convicted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson at his mansion six years ago.

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury returned the verdict Monday after an estimated 29 to 30 hours of deliberations.

The 40-year-old Clarkson, star of the 1985 cult film “Barbarian Queen,” died of a gunshot fired in her mouth as she sat in the foyer of Spector’s mansion in 2003. She met Spector only hours earlier at her job as a nightclub hostess.

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