LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The California Supreme Court refused today to review the case of three men convicted of a deadly 2008 attack on a woman in a Century City parking garage -- a crime that was masterminded by her estranged husband, who co-owned a gold trading company and is now on death row.
Jose Luis Moya, Gabriel Jay Marquez and Marquez's nephew, Steven Vicente Simmons, are serving life prison terms without the possibility of parole for the July 28, 2008, killing of Pamela Fayed, who was stabbed 13 times as she approached her SUV in a parking garage at Watt Plaza in Century City on July 28, 2008.
The three were convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, with a downtown Los Angeles jury finding true the special circumstance allegation of murder while lying in wait.
Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegation of murder for financial gain against Moya, who had worked as a ranch hand for the woman's estranged husband at his Ventura County ranch.
The victim's estranged husband, James M. Fayed, was tried separately and convicted of her murder, with jurors finding true the special circumstance allegations of murder for financial gain and murder while lying in wait. He was sentenced to death in November 2011, and his automatic appeal to the California Supreme Court is pending.
In a ruling in February, a three-justice panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense's contention that jurors in the case of Moya, Marquez and Simmons should not have heard Fayed's recorded statements to a jailhouse informant about the murder-for-hire plan.
The appellate court justices found that there was evidence that cell phones belonging to Moya, Marquez and Simmons were in the vicinity at the time of the crime and that those phones subsequently returned to Moorpark after the crime.
``It is not reasonably probable that, absent Fayed's description of the two men he thought assisted Moya, Marquez and Simmons would not have been convicted,'' the panel found.
``Marquez was the link between Moya, who was paid to kill Pamela, and Simmons, who the evidence showed probably did the actual killing,'' the justices wrote. ``Marquez had a relationship with Moya's niece and was related to Simmons. The jury could reasonably infer from the cell phone evidence that Marquez also traveled to the Century City area at the same time as Moya and Simmons and left at the same time, just after the killing.''
Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy, who presided over the trial in downtown Los Angeles for the three men, called it a ``most disturbing case because of its planning and sophistication -- even though it was not carried out in a sophisticated manner.''
In sentencing the victim's estranged husband to death, the judge called the killing a ``cold-blooded, vicious and brutal murder.''
She noted that Fayed was nearby as his wife was being ``brutally and brazenly murdered,'' and that others reacted to the woman's blood-curdling screams while surveillance video showed him outside the parking garage ``totally immune to the screams of his wife, the mother of his child.''
The Fayeds were in the midst of a bitter divorce. The killing occurred just after the two met with their attorneys in connection with a federal investigation into the couple's gold-trading business.
The prosecution contended that Fayed contracted the hit on his estranged wife because he believed the mother of two would cooperate with federal investigators and because she could have ended up with half of the couple's marital assets in a divorce.
Prosecutors also alleged that Fayed planned to arrange more killings from behind bars in hopes of eliminating the people who committed the crime for him.
One of Fayed's trial attorneys, Mark Werksman, said after the verdict that his client had maintained his innocence throughout the case and unsuccessfully asked the judge to spare Fayed's life.
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