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Trial set to begin in 2007 deaths, beating of O.C. family members

November 16, 2011 |  6:11 pm

Iftekhar Murtaza (L) and Jaypraykash and Karishma Dhanak
Two men are scheduled to stand trial Thursday for their alleged roles in a 2007 revenge-murder and attempted-murder conspiracy involving three members of an Anaheim Hills family.

Jaypraykash Dhanak, 56, and his daughter, Karishma Dhanak, 20, were slain and set on fire. Mother Leela Dhanak, who was 54, was beaten and stabbed in the attack but survived, the Orange County district attorney's office said.

Prosecutors allege that Iftekhar Murtaza, 27, stormed the Dhanaks' home in May  2007 with Vitaliy Krasnoperov and Charles Anthony Murphy Jr., both 26.

The men are charged with beating and repeatedly stabbing the father, whom they put in a bathroom while they waited for other family members to arrive. The men then beat and stabbed Leela Dhanak and forcibly detained Karishma Dhanak, the district attorney's office said in a statement.

As the mother lay on the front lawn of the house, the three men are accused of dousing the place with gasoline and setting it on fire. They then allegedly fled with the two other family members in a van.

The bodies of Jaypraykash and Karishma Dhanak were found on a bike trail in Mason Regional Park in Irvine.

Prosecutors said Murtaza planned the crime because he was angry over a breakup with family member Shayona Dhanak, who was 18. They had ended their two-year dating relationship weeks before the slayings, partly because her Hindu family had long frowned on her dating Murtaza, who is a Muslim, according to court records.

Krasnoperov and Murphy are scheduled to stand trial Thursday morning at Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. Krasnoperov was previously tried, but a jury was unable to reach a verdict. Both men face a maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

The district attorney's office is seeking the death penalty against Murtaza, who is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Friday.


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-- Robert J. Lopez


Photos: Ifetkhar Murtaza, left, Jayprakash Dhanak and Karishma Dhanak

Credit: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, California Department of Motor Vehicles via Associated Press