Death penalty sought for businessman convicted in fatal stabbing of estranged wife
A Ventura County businessman convicted of masterminding the 2008 fatal stabbing of his estranged wife at a Century City parking garage was remorseless and should be put to death, a Los Angeles prosecutor argued Tuesday.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Eric Harmon told jurors 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 that Fayed also feared that his wife, 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. “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.
The downtown Los Angeles jury, which convicted Fayed of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, must now determine whether he should be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison.
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."
-- Jack Leonard