A cold-case murder plotted by a Westminster respiratory therapist who did not want to pay for his divorce from his wife in 2004 gets the NBC Dateline treatment tonight.
Here's the creepy trailer:
Magdi Faiz Girgis had a retraining order and pending domestic violence case against him by his 55-year-old wife Ariet Girgis, who was divorcing him and had forced him out of the family's Westminster house. Magdi Girgis did not want to pay for a divorce and he did not want to be convicted of a felony because it would cost the respiratory therapist his medical license.
So he had his wife bumped off.
In the early morning hours of Sept. 29, 2004, thugs who allegedly included 40-year-old Anthony Edward Bridget went to the Plum Street home of Ariet Girgis, who was there with her then-17-year-old son Ryan. Bridget allegedly bound and gagged the teen and forced him into a closet. At least one of the thugs murdered Ariet with a sharp object in her bedroom. The home was also ransacked before the thugs all fled.
Hearing a car driving away from the home, Ryan Girgis managed to break free and call Westminster Police. Homicide detectives had what appeared to be a home invasion robbery gone wrong, but the trail to the criminals eventually went cold. Meanwhile, if Magdi Girgis thought his wife's death would spare him the domestic violence rap, he was wrong. Ariet Girgis had testified at a preliminary hearing a few days before she was murdered, and he was convicted afterward.
The Dateline Friday report "The Man Who Was Not There," which airs at 8 tonight, details how James Wilson, a Westminster patrol officer at the time of the slaying, later investigated the cold case and discovered something didn't quite fit: Why had the home been ransacked without anything being taken?
Watch tonight to see how Wilson and other investigators cracked the case that--spoiler alert!--led to Magdi Girgis' arrest on Feb. 1, 2013. A jury in April found the now-62-year-old guilty of special circumstances murder, felony conspiracy to commit murder and found true sentencing enhancements for murder for financial gain and murder to prevent testimony. He was sentenced in June to life in state prison without the possibility of parole.
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Ryan and his brother Richard Girgis gave victim impact statements at sentencing, when they described living in fear of their father, who they know wished them dead, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA), whose Senior Deputy District Attorney Sonia Balleste prosecuted the case.
Richard went on to describe how he now lives with a security system, dogs and sleeps with a gun under his pillow because of the actions of his father, reports the OCDA, adding that Ryan Girgis told of how he attends a number of weddings for his business and observes so many mother and son dances, knowing he will never be able to share that moment with his mom.
Bridget is charged with the same counts as Magdi Girgis plus felony aggravated assault and false imprisonment by violence as well as sentencing enhancements for murder for financial gain, murder by lying in wait and murder during the commission of a burglary. He also faces life without parole with a conviction.