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Newlywed convicted of throwing his bride off a cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes

December 18, 2009 |  8:31 am

A 28-year-old Torrance man was convicted of throwing his bride off a cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Brandon Manai, who was found guilty of first-degree murder Thursday in the death of 24-year-old Julie Rosas, faces 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced in February, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Jodi Link.

Manai -- who was on probation because he choked his girlfriend to the point of unconsciousness as a teenager -- and Rosas had only been dating a short time when they married on June 19, 2005, in Las Vegas.The relationship had been rocky, with late-night arguments, Manai showing up at Rosas' workplace unannounced, and incessant phone calls and texts at all hours, Link said.

Within 48 hours of their wedding, Rosas was asking her friends how to seek an annulment.

On July 2 of that year, Manai picked up Rosas and was supposed to drive her to a downtown nightclub where she would meet up with girlfriends. Cellphone signals showed the pair made it to downtown, but they never made it to the club and her friends never heard from her, according to the prosecutor.

Cellphone records show the pair went to a cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes. Around 2:30 a.m. on July 3, Manai threw Rosas off the cliff, 200 feet to her death, Link said. Her body was found by a beachgoer 12 hours later.

The following day, Manai confessed to a friend over lunch. That individual testified during the trial.

Manai spent the next three days covering up his crime -- destroying Rosas’ belongings, calling her home and looking for her, using her cellphone to place calls and writing a diary entry in which he wondered where his wife was, Link said. Notably, he did not send her a single text, a marked change from before July 3, when he sent her up to 55 texts per day.

Rosas' body lay at the morgue, unidentified, until July 6, when her family filed a missing persons report. Once she was identified and police questioned Manai, he denied ever being in Rancho Palos Verdes with Rosas, but his cellphone records proved he was lying, according to Link.

The jury deliberated for six hours before convicting Manai.

-- Seema Mehta