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Prosecutors charge ex-con with capital murder in slaying of Hawthorne couple

October 26, 2010 | 12:22 pm

Prosecutors charged an ex-con with capital murder Tuesday in connection with the slayings of a Hawthorne couple during a home-invasion robbery.

John Wesley Ewell, 53, faces two counts of murder with the special circumstance of murder during a robbery. He also is charged with two counts of first-degree residential robbery.

Prosecutors will decide at a later date whether to seek the death penalty.

Ewell is being held on suspicion of killing Leamon Turnage, 69, and his wife, Robyn Turnage, 57.  They were discovered dead inside their home at 4 p.m. Friday by Hawthorne police officers conducting a welfare check.

Investigators also have evidence that may connect Ewell to a Sept. 24 home-invasion robbery several blocks away that left Hanna Morcos, 80, dead, said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

Morcos was found about 8:30 p.m. face-down in his apartment in the 4100 block of West 137th Street, according to The Times' Homicide Report.

Morcos had suffered blunt head trauma, said Ed Winter, a spokesman for the L.A. County coroner's office.

At the time of the killings, Ewell, a second-striker convicted of robbery in 1988 and 2005, was out on bail after being charged in September with grand theft and commercial burglary.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Click to visit The Times' interactive Homicide Report