Suspect in 'instant message' killings faces second murder trial
Three months after jurors failed to reach a verdict on his guilt, a 27-year-old Mission Hills man accused of participating in a brutal double-murder will go on trial again this week.
Charles Anthony Murphy is accused of taking part in the May 2007 slayings of Jaypraykash Dhanak, 56, and Karishma Dhanak, 20, and the attempted murder of Leela Dhanak, 54, of Anaheim Hills.
Prosecutors said Murphy’s childhood friend, 27-year-old Iftekhar Murtaza, a nonpracticing Muslim from Van Nuys, was angered by the belief that the devoutly Hindu parents of his girlfriend, Shayona Dhanak, were responsible for the break-up of their two-year relationship.
Prosecutors said Murtaza contacted Murphy and another friend, Vitaliy Krasnoperov, 26, of Hollywood, to arrange the parents’ slayings. Krasnoperov was accused of helping plot the slayings and then sending out directions by instant message.
Attackers surprised Shayona Dhanak’s father, Jaypraykash Dhanak, and her sister, Karishma Dhanak, at their Anaheim Hills home, took them to an Irvine park and set them on fire, prosecutors said.
Shayona Dhanak’s mother, Leela Dhanak, was found unconscious on a neighbor’s lawn with third-degree burns but survived.
Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty against Murtaza, who was arrested trying to flee to India and will face a pretrial hearing in June.
-- Christopher Goffard
Photo: Authorities remove the bodies of Jaypraykash Dhanak and Karishma Dhanak from Mason Regional Park in Irvine in 2007. Credit: Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times