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Jury calls for death sentence for James Fayed in wife's murder [Updated]

May 31, 2011 | 11:17 am

James M. Fayed, left, with attorney Stephen Meister during his murder trial.

A Los Angeles jury decided Tuesday that a wealthy businessman should be put to death for masterminding the 2008 murder of his estranged wife, who was fatally stabbed at a Century City parking garage.

James Fayed, 48, was convicted two weeks ago of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of his wife, Pamela Fayed, who was killed as the couple fought for control over their multimillion-dollar gold-trading business during a bitter divorce.

Pamela Fayed, 44, was attacked by a hooded assailant on July 28, 2008, shortly after meeting with her husband and their attorneys.

Prosecutors had urged jurors to reach a verdict of death in the case, describing the crime as a “brutal betrayal.” James Fayed, they said, wanted to head off a potentially expensive divorce and feared that his wife was preparing to cooperate with a federal investigation into their business practices.

Key to the case was a secretly recorded conversation between Fayed and a federal jail cellmate who was cooperating with authorities. On the tape, which was played in court, Fayed admitted paying to arrange his wife’s slaying, and he plotted with the cellmate to have the accomplices killed.

But a defense lawyer asked jurors to spare Fayed’s life in favor of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Attorney Stephen Meister told jurors last week that his client had no history of violence and was known as a loving, gentle person until he became addicted to prescription drugs while battling depression.

[Updated at 2:33 p.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the verdict had been handed down Monday.]

RELATED:

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

Husband convicted of masterminding wife's fatal stabbing could face death penalty

-- Jack Leonard at L.A. County Superior Court

Photo: James M. Fayed, left, with attorney Stephen Meister during his murder trial. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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