LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A state appeals court panel today rejected the latest bid for re-sentencing by one of two men convicted in the November 1998 slayings of two witnesses in West Hills who were expected to testify against him in a burglary case.
Kenneth C. Leighton, now 59, and co-defendant Randall B. Williams, now 58, were found guilty of first-degree murder for the Nov. 4, 1998, shooting deaths of Jamie Navaroli and April Mahoney as the victims returned to a friend's home where they were staying.
Jurors found true the special circumstance allegations of killing a witness to a crime, multiple murders and lying in wait against both men, along with an allegation that Williams personally used a firearm. Prosecutors alleged that Williams shot the two at the behest of Leighton -- who owned an automobile repair shop in the San Fernando Valley --to keep them from testifying against Leighton.
Navaroli died at the scene. Mahoney died a few weeks later, after identifying Williams from a photo lineup she was shown by police detectives. Leighton and Williams were each sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Leighton has asked twice to be re-sentenced under a new state law that affects defendants in some murder cases, but a judge has turned down both requests. The three-justice panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeal noted in its nine-page ruling that ``the record of conviction conclusively established that Leighton's petition was meritless.''