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O.C. therapist arrested on suspicion of plotting wife's slaying

February 5, 2013 |  6:00 pm

An Orange County man, who had previously been convicted of beating his wife, has been arrested and charged with orchestrating the fatal 2004 attack that left her nearly decapitated, law enforcement officials said late Tuesday.

Magdi Girgis, 60, has been charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder and one felony count of false imprisonment by violence, according to a joint statement from Westminster police and the Orange County district attorney's office.

If convicted, prosecutors said he faces a minimum of life in state prison without the possibility of parole and is eligible for the death penalty. He is being held without bail and is scheduled for arraignment March 15.

More arrests are imminent, authorities said at a news conference Tuesday.

Authorities said that prior to the slaying, Magdi Girgis was accused of assaulting his wife, who was 55 when she died.

Authorities said Ariet Girgis was attempting to get a divorce from her husband, who had moved from their Westminster home.

Prosecutors said that Magdi Girgis, a respiratory therapist, wanted to avoid the financial loss of a divorce and possibly losing his medical license. So, they said, he approached at least one person to kill her.

On Sept. 24, 2004, authorities said at least two people entered the Girgis' home. Ariet Girgis and her then-17-year-old son, Ryan, were the only ones home.

One intruder is accused of binding and gagging the son and forcing him into a closet; and another is accused of striking Ariet Girgis with a sharp object, killing her. The intruders then fled, authorities said.

The woman's two sons, now adults, said at the news conference that they had warm memories of their mother, remembering her as "sweet" and "tender-hearted."

But with their father, whom they haven't spoken to since the arrest, they said they've been left wondering why.

"He was our father and I shared good memories with him," Ryan Girgis said Tuesday, "and it took a bad turn with everything that happened."

The sons, as well as officials, also implored anyone with information to reach out and contact Supervising Dist. Atty. Investigator Randy Litwin at (714) 347-8492 or Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS or occrimestoppers.org.


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-- Rick Rojas