Judge sentences 2 to death in murder case

first_imgLithuanian native Kadamovas, 40, of Sherman Oaks, showed no emotion during the sentencing. Russian native Mikhel, 41, of Encino, chose to watch the proceedings from a holding cell. Both were ringleaders of a gang that sought to amass a fortune by kidnapping four men and one woman – including three from the San Fernando Valley – and extorting $1.2 million from their families. The victims were lured to business meetings, where they were suffocated with plastic bags. Their bodies were then weighted and tossed from a bridge into the New Melones Reservoir near Yosemite National Park. The money went to buy expensive homes, mink coats for girlfriends and other luxuries. Kadamovas had told one henchman that he hoped they would collect $50 million and dump enough bodies until they “were stacked up on top of each other” in the reservoir. “Animals, animals, those are animals,” said Ruven Umansky, 73, an immigrant from the Ukraine whose son, Alex, was among the victims. “Justice was done,” he said. “If they would allow me, I would (execute them) myself.” In addition to Muscatel, 58, those killed were banking mogul George Safiev, 37, of Beverly Hills; Safiev’s accountant, Rita Pekler, 39, of West Hollywood; Nick Kharabadze, 29, of Woodland Hills, Safiev’s business partner in a fledgling movie production company; and Umansky, 35, of Sherman Oaks, owner of a car-stereo store. Asked for a few final words before sentencing, Kadamovas issued a long monologue, through an interpreter, about being unjustly tried. Mikhel refused to speak on his own behalf. Tevrizian refused to grant a request for a new trial from Kadamovas’ defense team. He also denied a request by Mikhel for a new penalty phase. Another defendant in the case, 34-year-old Ukrainian Petro Krylov, is now on trial. Three accomplices who pleaded guilty – including Kadamovas’ girlfriend, Natalya Solovyeva and Ainar Altmanis, a Latvian who led authorities to the reservoir – will be sentenced this summer. Evgenia Safiev, who lost her father in the ordeal, said there will be no justice. “Justice would be having our loved ones back,” said Safiev, 22, of Marina del Rey. “Members of our family can barely live, day to day, because of what they’ve done.” Roman Khayumov, Pekler’s husband, is left alone to care for their son, who has Down syndrome. “You take a life, you’ve got to pay with a life,” said Khayumov, 45, of Van Nuys. “The only thing (my son) knows is he doesn’t have a mother.” [email protected] (818) 713-3730 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Nancy Shapiro had always believed the death penalty barbaric – until her husband was strangled with a plastic bag and dumped into a cold mountain reservoir. So when a federal judge issued the ultimate penalty Monday to two men convicted in the brutal kidnap-for-cash scheme that resulted in the murders of five Los Angeles business people, she could only express relief. “These people are evil. They’re monsters. They deserve it,” said Shapiro, whose husband, Meyer Muscatel, became the first of the victims. “There are no winners in this.” Not a win for the mostly Russian immigrants killed in late 2001 and early 2002 despite promises to their loved ones that they’d be set free. Not for their families who, in addition to their loss, suffered through seven months of gruesome and mocking testimony in the presence of the killers. And not for the attorneys and jailers forced to put up with numerous hunger strikes, suicide and escape attempts by the defendants. More than two dozen relatives sat riveted as U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian issued rulings condemning Iouri Mikhel and Jurijus Kadamovas to death. “In this particular case there were five deaths – brutal, brutal, brutal deaths,” Tevrizian said. “These particular killers showed no mercy to their victims. I have never seen a case in court where the evidence was so compelling.” last_img read more

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