This weekend's Weekender Updater includes a killer getting California's ultimate non-enforced punishment (the death penalty), a wrong-way driver convicted of murder getting a long prison sentence, a cop avoiding prison or jail for beating the stuffing out of a teen relative, and a settlement being approved in an injured volunteer searcher's lawsuit against a lost hiker.
Update: Finally, a judge sentenced Iftekhar Murtaza to death this week for the 2007 slayings of his ex-girlfriend's father and sister and near murder of her mother in Anaheim Hills. It's been a long process of legal wrangling because, as Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals put it, 30-year-old Murtaza is “as manipulative an individual as I've encountered in all my years in this profession.” The defendant sought a lie detector test after jurors recommended he be put to death and filed an ultimately rejected appeal aimed at getting his attorneys dismissed so he could represent himself, something Goethals called “a delaying tactic.” Noting that Murtaza has racked up 25 major rules violations and 45 minor ones while in Orange County Jail, the judge remarked, “He has approached this prosecution as some sort of devilish game, a devilish game of chess. Well, Mr. Murtaza, today the game is over.”
Update: Ruben Gurrola was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in state prison for killing one woman and injuring two others in a wrong-way crash on the 91 freeway in Anaheim three years ago. The 26-year-old Pomona resident was convicted Nov. 13 of second-degree murder as jurors bought the prosecution's contention that he understood the dangers of drinking and driving as he'd been involved in a September 2009 crash in Covina due to speeding, and was issued a citation for alcohol possession as a juvenile that required him to take a class that instructed him about the hazards of driving under the influence. Gurrola's blood-alcohol level was tested at .18, well above the legal limit of .08, about an hour and a half after he got behind the wheel of his 2009 Honda Civic with his girlfriend in the passenger seat, drove north in the southbound lanes of the 241 toll road and east in the westbound lanes of the 91 freeway, and (with with motorists flashing their lights at the wrong-way driver) at 1:40 a.m. slammed the Civic head-on into a 2011 Toyota Camry driven by Young Kim, whose 53-year-old passenger Kyung Namgoong was killed. Gurrola, his girlfriend and Kim were injured in the crash.
Irvine Cops Go After Drivers Who Eat, Text or Otherwise Don't Pay Attention Behind Wheel
Update: At Jorene Ypanto Nicolas' February 2012 arraignment, the San Diego resident pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges despite law enforcement's contention that her distracted driving caused a crash that killed 23-year-old Deanna Mauer. Last April, jurors deadlocked in Nicolas' first trial, in which she blamed Mauer for the incident on the 405 freeway in Westminster almost four years ago. On Friday, Nicolas told Orange County Superior Court Judge Steven Bromberg that she is willing to accept a plea deal. The judge indicated he wants to make sure Mauer's mother is OK with the deal that would have Nicolas pleading guilty to vehicular manslaughter in exchange for 500 hours of community service, five years of formal probation and a year in jail–as opposed to four years in prison. She's due back in court on Wednesday.
Nick Papageorge's, Volunteer Whose Spine Broke Searching for Kyndall Jack, Sues Hiker
Update: A settlement was approved recently in a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court by a volunteer who suffered spinal injuries while trying to rescue a woman who got lost while hiking with a friend in Trabuco Canyon in April 2013. Terms of the settlement in Nick Papageorge's' negligence suit against Kyndall Jack were not disclosed. More importantly, Papageorge's (yes, that's how the last name is spelled) has recovered from his injuries, according to his attorney Eric Dubin. “He is doing great, fully recovered, and grateful everything has been fully resolved,” Dubin told City News Service. “We wish all the best for everybody involved.”
Update: The link above indicates Los Angeles Police Department Officer Daniel Hun Chun faced up to six years in prison for beating a teen relative for getting poor grades and other behavioral issues. But the 40-year-old is getting zero years, months or days in prison for the crime. In exchange for Chun's guilty plea to misdemeanor battery, he was sentenced to 120 hours of community service, participation in a child abuser's treatment program and four years of informal probation. He'd originally been charged with two felonies for repeatedly hitting the teen with a variety of household items on his shoulders, back and backside, leaving welts and bruises on the Fullerton boy. “It's a tragic personal and family situation involving … disciplining (a family member) who had shown some recent disciplinary and behavioral issues,” Jeff Kent, Chun's attorney, told City News Service. “We were able to reach an equitable result so everyone can move on.” Chun is on leave from his job and his future with the LAPD will be determined later, Kent noted.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.