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California man convicted for killing his ex-girlfriend’s Hindu family

California man convicted for killing his ex-girlfriend’s Hindu family

Iftekhar Murtaza of Los Angeles was found guilty of two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of conspiracy on Friday. Prosecutors said the 29-year-old killed his ex-girlfriend’s Hindu family because they disapproved of her dating a Muslim.

Iftekhar Murtaza, 29, is found guilty of the murder of his estranged girlfriend's father Jayprakash Dhanak, 56, and her oldest sister Karishma, 20, in an attack on May 21, 2007.

A jury found Iftekhar Murtaza, 29, guilty of two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of conspiracy.

The 12 jurors, who began deliberations a day earlier, found that there were special circumstances of multiple murders, and murder during a kidnapping in the case of one victim.The panel decided special circumstance allegations of murder during a kidnapping for another victim, and murder during a burglary, were not true.

Murtaza shook his head as the jurors left the room after the verdicts were read. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

“We’re very pleased with the verdicts,” said prosecutor Howard Gundy, adding he was ready to move on to the trial’s penalty phase, which is set to begin Dec. 2. He declined to comment further on the verdicts. Defense attorney Doug Myers declined to comment.

 Authorities say Murtaza killed the relatives of Shayona Dhanak, who was a college freshman in 2007, after she blamed her decision to end the couple’s two-year relationship on her devout Hindu family’s opposition to her dating a Muslim.The family’s home in Anaheim Hills was torched, and Dhanak’s mother, Leela, was stabbed and left unconscious on a neighbor’s lawn. The charred, stabbed bodies of Dhanak’s father, Jay, and 20-year-old sister Karishma were found in a park the next day.

Prosecutors say an obsessed Murtaza wanted to kill the family to eliminate them as an obstacle to the relationship and drive Shayona Dhanak back to his arms.

In an online chat with Krasnoperov, Murtaza first planned to hire a hit man but carried out the killings himself with Murphy’s help when Dhanak told him she planned to go out on a date with someone else, Gundy said during the trial.

Authorities were dispatched to the inferno at the family’s home in May 2007. Dhanak’s father and sister were missing until the next morning, when their bodies were found burning in a park 2 miles from her dorm room at University of California, Irvine. Murtaza was interviewed by police several days later and then arrested at a Phoenix airport with a ticket to his native Bangladesh and more than $11,000 in cash.

During the trial, Murtaza testified that he told many people he wanted to kill the Dhanaks because he was distraught over the breakup, but he said he didn’t mean it literally.

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