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Death penalty sought in O.C. murder-for-hire case

April 21, 2011 |  8:45 pm

The Orange County district attorney’s office is seeking the death penalty for a gang member convicted Thursday of killing a family businessman in a murder-for-hire case.

Armando Macias, 35, of Lancaster, was found guilty of one felony count of special circumstances murder with an allegation of murder for financial gain.

In 2002, Deborah Perna, 54, of Anaheim learned that her father intended to pass control of their family company to her 44-year-old brother, David Montemayor. She became jealous, prosecutors said. She worked as the office manager for the company and suspected that her brother was stealing from the business, according to the district attorney's office.

Perna asked a co-worker, Edelmira Corona, 34, of Pico Rivera, to help her arrange a killing. Corona then asked her friend Anthony Navarro, 44, of Canyon County to arrange the murder, and he solicited three alleged San Fernando Valley gang members: Macias; Gerardo Lopez, 26, of Pacoima; and Alberto Martinez, 33, of Castaic.

On Oct. 2, 2002, the trio kidnapped Montemayor at the family-run business in Rancho Dominguez and drove the father of three toward his Buena Park home, where he allegedly kept thousands of dollars in cash.

About a mile from the home, Montemayor escaped from the car, driven by Martinez, and ran from his attackers. As he ran down the street, Macias shot Montemayor in the head. Lopez also fired at Montemayor, prosecutors said.

The three defendants fled the scene and became involved in a televised police chase during rush hour. Police eventually stopped the vehicle and arrested the men.

Martinez and Navarro were both given death sentences, while Perna and Lopez were sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Corona is scheduled to be sentenced on April 28. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter in March 2004 and faces a maximum of 22 years in prison.

Macias was also charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, being a gang member carrying a loaded firearm in public, kidnapping to commit robbery, attempted murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, street terrorism with allegations for murder during the commission of another felony, and murder committed for a criminal street gang purpose. He also received a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death and the personal use of a deadly weapon.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz

RELATED:

Sister held in murder-for-hire case

Buena Park woman guilty in death of her brother

Woman who hired a hit man to kill her brother gets life in prison

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