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2 convicted in Koreatown murders of man and teenage stepdaughter

January 6, 2010 | 11:32 am

Two men were convicted today of murdering a man and his teenage stepdaughter during a drug-related robbery on New Year’s Eve 2006 in Koreatown.

Matthew Ian Koontz, 36, and Jonathan Blackwell, 29, were each found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for the pre-dawn shooting deaths of Raul Cruz and 17-year-old Jessica Cipriano. Prosecutors contended the shootings were committed in the course of robbing Cruz’s Koreatown apartment for drug money.

Cruz was shot twice in the chest and twice in the upper back. His stepdaughter was shot once in the head and twice in the back.

Koontz and Blackwell were also convicted of attempted murder in the shooting of Cruz’s wife, who was hit in the stomach but survived. Cruz’s 9-year-old son, who was hiding under the covers in a bedroom and escaped harm, testified during the trial.

The seven-man, five-woman jury also found special allegations involving the use of a firearm and multiple murder. They deliberated for 3 1/2 days before returning the verdict.

Judge Bob Bowers Jr. ordered the men to return to court Thursday for the penalty phase of the trial, in which the jury will decide whether they should receive the death penalty

-- Victoria Kim 

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