Man sentenced for double-murder of girlfriend’s grandparents in Rosemead

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.

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Man sentenced for Monterey Park pizza parlor murder


MONTEREY PARK >> A Bakersfield man received a sentence of more than 16 years in state prison Thursday for stabbing another man 15 times, killing, at a Monterey Park pizza parlor four years ago, officials said.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury in Burbank convicted Jose De Jesus Ruiz, also known as Jose De Jesus Salas, 26, in July of second-degree murder for the Oct. 6, 2012, stabbing death of 25-year-old Patrick Raymond Ortega at Shakey’s, 1955 S. Atlantic Blvd. The jury also found true the special allegation that Ruiz personally used a knife in the crime.
Judge Michael Carter sentenced Ruiz to 16 years to life in state prison, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
The stabbing took place shortly after 7 p.m. as Ruiz was gathered at the restaurant with members of a youth football organization.
He became involved in a dispute with Ortega, who witnesses testified was being “disruptive” inside the pizza parlor while dining with friends, according to Deputy District Attorney Theodore Swanson, who prosecuted the case.
Ruiz briefly left the restaurant before returning and stabbing Ortega 15 times, Swanson said.
Ruiz was found hiding in his car several hours later and arrested, officials said. .
Second-degree murder is defined in California as the unlawful killing of another with malice, but without deliberation or premeditation.
If convicted of first-degree murder — a murder deemed deliberate, premeditated and with malice — Ruiz could have faced a maximum sentence of 26 years to life behind bars.

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Homeless man convicted of Bassett hammer murder

BASSETT >> A homeless man received a sentence of 15 years to life in prison Thursday after pleading “no contest” to fatally beating another homeless man with a hammer following a dispute over a sleeping spot near a dumpster in La Puente, authorities said.
Marco Antonio Villanueva, 37, admitted to second-degree murder for the fatal beating of 56-year-old Ruben Zermeno, who was found “stomped on and beaten” June 18, 2014, in the 13900 block of Valley Boulevard, in the unincorporated county area of Bassett, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
In addition to a dispute over a sleeping spot, Villanueva told investigators that “God told him” to kill Zermeno, Lt. Steve Jauch of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said shortly after the arrest.
Deputies had already arrested Villanueva after he was found sleeping on someone’s porch in Hacienda Heights nearly three hours before Zermeno’s body was found by a passer-by, and Villanueva was linked to the killing.
“When Villanueva was taken into custody, he admitted to investigators that he got mad at the victim for taking his spot near the dumpster and as a result, struck Zermeno with a hammer,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
If he had been convicted of first-degree murder, Villanueva could have faced 25 years to life in prison.

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