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Man sentenced in fatal baseball bat bludgeoning

A 35-year-old Chatsworth man was sentenced today to 31 years to life in state prison for bludgeoning a San Fernando Valley convenience store clerk to death with a baseball bat.

Frank Erik Kaatz  was convicted last month in the October 2006 death of Hiran Ediriweera at the AM/PM mini-market in the 20400 block of Devonshire Street. The defendant faced a maximum of more than 75 years in state prison.

Kaatz initially intended for police to shoot him when he went to the mini-mart, authorities said. The plan was to tell police he had committed a murder and then rush at officers with the bat, provoking them to shoot.

But Kaatz changed his mind and was arrested on the roof of the Denny’s restaurant next-door, police said.

Detectives said Ediriweera had worked the night shift at the market for five years but had no family in the U.S.

In March 1993, Kaatz and three other men robbed a West San Fernando Valley 7-Eleven, police said. Kaatz repeatedly stabbed Amolak Singh Saini, 26, a store employee.

Saini suffered critical wounds but survived, police said.

Kaatz also was arrested several times on narcotics-related charges, including possession of methamphetamine, police said.

-- Andrew Blankstein

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