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Deliberations resume for husband who arranged killing of estranged wife in Century City

May 25, 2011 |  8:13 am

James Fayed, 48, left, with attorneys.

A downtown Los Angeles jury will resume deliberations Wednesday to decide whether a businessman convicted of masterminding the 2008 fatal stabbing of his estranged wife at a Century City parking garage should be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison.

The same jury last week convicted James Fayed, 48, of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the killing of his wife, Pamela.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Eric Harmon told jurors Tuesday that the killing involved a “brutal betrayal” by James Fayed as the couple fought for control over their multimillion-dollar gold trading business during a bitter divorce.

Prosecutors contend Fayed also feared that Pamela was preparing to cooperate with a federal investigation into their business practices and paid one of his workers $25,000 to arrange the slaying with the help of two gang members.

“There is no more brutal crime than one perpetrated on your own family,” Harmon said as he urged jurors to reach a verdict of death. “It was all about money and protecting his own skin.”

Pamela Fayed, 44, was attacked July 28, 2008, by a hooded assailant on the third floor of a parking garage after a meeting with her husband and their lawyers. The killer fled in a red Suzuki SUV that had been rented by the Fayeds’ business.

Harmon played excerpts of a secretly recorded conversation between Fayed and a cellmate who was cooperating with authorities.

On the tape, Fayed discussed the slaying and could be heard plotting to kill the people who had helped carry out the stabbing. He also disparaged his dead wife, calling her “money-grubbing” and accusing her of making up lies about him.

“Zero remorse,” Harmon said to jurors after playing the excerpts. “What kind of person does this? Cold. Calculating. Cowardly.”

But defense attorney Stephen Meister described the prosecutor’s arguments as “blood lust” and asked jurors to spare his client’s life.

Fayed, the lawyer said, had no history of violence and had undergone a change of personality after becoming addicted to prescription drugs while battling depression.

"Do you need to shed more blood?" Meister asked jurors. It's "a guilty person’s blood, but blood nonetheless. It’s as red as any innocent's."

Life in prison would be an appropriate punishment for Fayed, Meister argued.

"Jim Fayed once had it all," the lawyer said. "Now he knows with every breath that he’s staring down that hole into life without parole."

RELATED:

Man arranged to have wife killed, then plotted to kill hitmen, prosecutors say

-- Jack Leonard

Photo: James Fayed, 48, left, with attorneys. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

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