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Businessman sentenced to death for masterminding wife's slaying

November 17, 2011 | 11:16 am

James Fayed

A Los Angeles judge sentenced a wealthy businessman to death Thursday for masterminding the 2008 murder of his estranged wife, who was fatally stabbed at a Century City parking garage.

“This is one cold, calculating human being … he doesn’t feel anything,” said Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy moments before sentencing James Fayed.

Fayed was convicted earlier this year 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 successfully urged jurors to reach a verdict of death in the case, describing the crime as a “brutal betrayal.”

James Fayed, authorities said, wanted to head off a potentially expensive divorce and feared 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.

Fayed’s attorney on Thursday continued to argue that his client was innocent and blamed the slaying on Fayed’s sister, saying she was “the quarterback of the plot.” Fayed’s sister could not immediately be reached for comment.


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Photo: James Fayed in court in May. Fayed was sentenced Thursday to death for his wife's slaying. Credit: Al Seib / Associated Press