See corrected paragraphs in this post concerning the plotting of the murders.
Vitaliy Krasnoperov was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for his role in the 2007 murders of an Anaheim Hills man and his daughter and the attempted murder of her mother.
The bodies of the deceased were set aflame in an attempt to cover-up the crimes, and Hollywood 26-year-old Krasnoperov would have answered to three murders had Leela Dhana not pulled out of a coma.
Murders Were Kept All in the Family
Vitaliy Krasnoperov Accused of Murder in Plot with 2 Burned Bodies
Vitaliy Krasnoperov Found Guilty at Second Revenge-Murder Trial; Jury Deadlocks on Co-Defendant Charles Anthony Murphy Jr.
A jury in December 2011 found Krasnoperov guilty of two felony counts of special circumstances murder, one felony count of attempted murder, and one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder. Sentencing enhancements for multiple murders, murder during the commission of a burglary, and murder during the commission of kidnapping were found true.
Five months earlier, another jury was unable to reach a verdict.
NOTE: CORRECTED PASSAGES FOLLOW . . .
Krasnoperov and--it is alleged as their trials are yet to begin--Charles Anthony Murphy Jr., 27, of Mission Hills, and Iftekhar Murtaza, 28, of Van Nuys, conspired to murder the
family members parents of Murtaza's ex-girlfriend because then UC Irvine freshman Shayona Dhanak's devout Hindi family disapproved of her having dated the non-practicing Muslim.
Murtaza is accused of having turned to his friend Krasnoperov for help in rubbing out the Dhanak family members. Krasnoperov was found guilty not of participating in the actual attacks but of having
recruited defendant Murphy to help Murtaza carry out the brutal killings, as well as helped with the planning. Among the evidence presented at trial was an instant message where Krasnoperov informed Murtaza that he would contact someone whom he knew "used to do this type of work."
ADDED SINCE ORIGINAL POST: According to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office: After the break-up, Murtaza is accused of contacting his friend, Krasnoperov, online and telling him in an AOL Instant Messenger (IM) conversation that he wanted to kill Jaypraykash and Leela Dhanak. Murtaza is accused of having an IM discussion with Krasnoperov about ways to murder the victims, including burning their house down or using a hit man. Krasnoperov offered to contact someone whom he knew "used to do this type of work." On April 26, 2007, Murtaza is accused of having another online IM conversation with Krasnoperov to discuss an upcoming meeting, arranged by Krasnoperov. They are accused of planning this meeting with the intention of negotiating the murders of the Dhanak family. Krasnoperov instructed Murtaza to obtain a picture of the victims by sending Shayona Dhanak an IM asking for a photograph from her recent family trip to India.
At approximately 1:30 p.m. on May 21, 2007, Murtaza is accused of contacting and exchanging a series of text messages with his childhood friend, Murphy, and offering him $30,000 "for a job." Murtaza is accused of telling Murphy that they should meet in person to discuss the details. Murphy is accused of agreeing to meet with Murtaza that day and participate in the murders of the Dhanaks that night.
Leela and Jaypraykash Dhanak, 56, worked together in Irvine, but on May 21, 2007, the husband beat the wife home by several hours, having arranged to meet the Mrs. there later. Sometime after 6:30 p.m., invaders entered the house and forcibly restrained Dhanak before beating and repeatedly stabbing him. He was left in a bathroom while his attackers awaited the arrival of Leela and her daughter Karishma Dhanak, 20.
After being dropped off at the home around 10:30 p.m., Karishma was forcibly detained. When the mother arrived about 15 minutes later, she was immediately attacked and stabbed in the stomach. The home was then doused in gasoline and set ablaze as the attackers tried to move the father, mother and daughter into a van parked outside. But a witness approached the home because the fire had spread by then. The attackers only managed to drive off with Jaypraykash and Karishma Dhanak in the van. Leela Dhanak was left unconscious on her neighbor's lawn. The witness managed to flag down a passing patrol car, and an officer attended to the woman while the home was engulfed in flames and largely destroyed.
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The next day, the bodies of Jaypraykash and Karishma Dhanak were found set ablaze on a bike trail at Mason Regional Park in Irvine, which is also near the college Murphy attended, Concordia University. Leela Dhanak spent a month in the hospital as a result of her wounds, including about three weeks in a coma.
Murphy is charged with two felony counts of special circumstances murder, one felony count of attempted murder, and one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder. He faces sentencing enhancements for multiple murders, murder during the commission of a burglary, murder during the commission of kidnapping, and murder for financial gain. Life in state prison without the possibility of parole if he is convicted in what will be his third trial, as the jury could not reach a verdict in the first trial and a mistrial was declared in the second.
The district attorney's office is seeking the death penalty for Murtaza, who faces the same charges and enhancements as Murphy. Murtaza has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Dec. 14, 2012.
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