ORIGINAL POST, DEC. 16, 11:45 A.M.: A jury in Santa Ana this morning recommended the death penalty for Iftekhar Murtaza, the sick fuck who wiped out a young woman and her father because he did not want the Van Nuys 29-year-old dating his other daughter.
Murtaza had hatched a plan that would have his ex-girlfriend returning to his arms after the "robbery"-murder of her sister and father, who were ultimately set on fire, and near slaying of her mother, who was beaten into a coma.
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Senior Deputy District Attorney Howard Gundy proved to the jury during the trial that Murtaza hatched the plan with a friend and a friend of that friend to kill Jaypraykash and Leela Dhanak, Anaheim Hills' Hindis who had disapproved of Muslim Murtaza having dated their daughter Shayona Dhanak, then an 18-year-old UC Irvine freshman.
The killers first severely beat 56-year-old Jaypraykash in his home on May 21, 2007. Before Jaypraykash's wife returned home for the couple's workplace in Irvine, their 20-year-old daughter Karishma Dhanak walked into an ambush that left her severely beaten as well. Leela, 54, later arrived to the same fate.
The family members were being beaten some more on the way to a van after their home was set on fire. But the killers only managed to get the father and daughter in the van, as the commotion brought out neighbors who forced the attackers to leave the mother behind. Jaypraykash and Karishma Dhanak's burned bodies were found in an Irvine park the next day.
Co-defendant Vitaliy Krasnoperov, 28, of Hollywood, was sentenced Nov. 9, 2012, to life in state prison without the possibility of parole, the same maximum penalty facing Charles Anthony Murphy, Jr., 29, of Mission Hills, whose sentencing is scheduled for Friday.
Murtaza is to receive his formal sentence from the judge on Jan. 10 in Santa Ana.
UPDATE, DEC. 16, 1:46 P.M.: Jurors deliberated about three hours before returning with the death verdict, reports Paul Anderson of City News Service.
After the verdict was read and jurors were dismissed, Murtaza blurted out, "I'll take a lie detector test."
"That was typical Murtaza," responded Leela Dhanak to Anderson. "If he doesn't get his way, he always does an outburst."
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It was just as ridiculous to her as Murtaza's testimony was to prosecutor Howard Gundy: the killer claimed he was "high on Ecstasy" the night of the slayings and went to the Dhanak home to discuss the family's religious differences with Leela's husband when Charles Murphy and Landon Brown--the son of singer Bobby Brown--stormed in to launch the bloodshed. Murtaza claims he then fled and caught a cab home.
Obviously, the jury did not buy it.
"Finally, justice is served," Leela Dhanak said today.