A veteran Orange County Register court reporter went to cover a murder trial--and a wedding broke out!
Okay, it was not quite as unusual as that, but unusual certainly explains the nuptials Larry Welborn covered in a visitors' room of the main jail in Santa Ana today.
The bride, who just turned 20, is accused of helping her then-boyfriend kill a guy in Huntington Beach's Murdy Park in Huntington Beach last October. The 26-year-old groom allegedly beat his ex-girlfriend's dad and sister to death before setting their bodies on fire in Mason Regional Park in May 2007. So, love of parks and murder raps are two things the couple have in common.
The story Welborn spins is that a friend of Marissa Star Bilotti in the women's jail got the two crazy kids together. Without meeting one another, Bilotti and Iftekhar Murtaza began writing letters to one another in January, as many of six a day, and by February they decided they were in love.
Dick Herman, Bilotti's attorney, won a court order allowing the couple to be married inside the courtroom at the jail on June 10, Bilotti's 20th birthday. But sheriff's department jailers objected, postponing the "I do's." Officials relented on Friday, and Bilotti and Murtaza were quickly married today. Jail pastor jail Cindy Richardson officiated. But Gregory Ryan Heintz, Jaypraykash Dhanak and Karishma Dhanak could not attend the ceremony, seeing as how they're dead.
Heintz, 32, of Garden Grove, was allegedly shot once in the stomach by Derek Christopher Adams with Bilotti at the 22-year-old's side. Heintz was one of two men who'd gone to Murdy Park to help protect Adams' former girlfriend, who'd arranged to meet Adams and Bilotti to retrieve her cell phone hours after they allegedly took it while roughing up the young woman's current boyfriend.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Authorities claim Bilotti hid a knife in her vagina before the confrontation in the park. She could get up to 32 years to life in state prison if convicted.
Murtaza is accused of killing 56-year-old Jaypraykash Dhank and his daughter Karishma, who like Murtaza's new wife was 20. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in his case.
Bilotti has a pre-trial hearing scheduled Aug. 26, while Murtaza's double-murder trial is not expected to begin until next year. So at least the happy couple has a long honeymoon ahead.