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Man arrested in cold case murder to be arraigned

January 9, 2011 |  2:12 pm

A 55-year-old Indiana truck driver could face the death penalty if convicted of murder in the slaying of a Lancaster man three decades ago, authorities said.

Christopher David Winter, who was brought back to Los Angeles last week, is suspected of fatally shooting Joseph Azevedo, 50, inside a mobile home in the 42000 block of 6th Street East, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said. Azevedo’s body was discovered May 2, 1981, by two of his family members. Authorities believe Azevedo surprised Winter during a burglary.

Forensic evidence was gathered at the time but no suspects were identified. Decades passed. In 2006, the case was reopened and new DNA evidence led investigators to Winter, but insufficient information forced them to drop the case.

Four years later, Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide detectives reexamined case statements and used modern forensic analysis to again identify Winter as the suspect. They presented their evidence to the L.A. County district attorney’s office, which last November filed charges of burglary and murder with special circumstances.

After issuing an arrest warrant, detectives learned that Winter was a long-haul truck driver living in Indiana and notified the FBI. Assisted by local police, FBI agents arrested the suspect without incident Nov. 6, 2010 after he made a delivery to a grocery store distribution center in Tipp City, Ohio.

Following extradition proceedings, L.A. detectives traveled to Ohio and brought back Winter on Jan. 6. He is being held without bail in the Men’s Central Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Detectives with the cold case unit often open older cases to see if updated databases and advances in forensic science, including fingerprint and DNA analyses, can provide new clues, the sheriff’s department said.

“Some homicides may have previously been unsolved, but they are not forgotten,” Lt. Wes Sutton said.


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-- Corina Knoll