2 Charged in Killing of Marijuana Dispensary Worker Whose Body Was Found in Mojave Desert

A San Gabriel man was charged Monday with murdering a 21-year-old group faculty scholar whose stays had been discovered in a distant space of the Mojave Desert practically two months after he went lacking in South Los Angeles.

Ethan Kedar Astaphan, 27, appeared in a downtown courtroom and pleaded not responsible in the killing of Juan “Cookie” Carlos Hernandez, in accordance with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Sonita Heng, 20, of Harbor City, who’s charged with being an adjunct after the very fact, additionally entered a not responsible plea. Both had been ordered to return to court docket Dec. 1, when a date is predicted to be set for a preliminary listening to to find out whether or not there may be enough proof to proceed to trial.

If convicted as charged, Astaphan faces a attainable most sentence of 25 years to life in state jail, whereas Heng could possibly be sentenced to as much as three years in jail. Bail is ready at $10 million for every defendant.

Hernandez, a scholar at El Camino College in Torrance, was final seen alive on Sept. 22 in the 8100 block of South Western Avenue. He had simply completed a shift working at a marijuana dispensary and had texted his mom saying he’d be residence quickly, the Los Angeles Times reported.

His automotive was discovered two days later in the 6400 block of South Figueroa Street, practically three miles away.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division labored with the FBI to analyze Hernandez’s disappearance, and “their efforts offered detectives with a sequence of occasions to seek out Hernandez,” in accordance with a police assertion.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s search and rescue crew discovered Hernandez’s stays Nov. 15 in a shallow grave alongside Afton Canyon Road, east of Interstate 15, north of Barstow.

The trigger of loss of life was not launched, however police mentioned he “appeared to be the victim of a homicide.”

LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division detectives, with help from a SWAT crew, served search warrants final Thursday on the houses of Astaphan and Heng, figuring out them on the time as “individuals of curiosity” and arresting them later that day.

Police mentioned that inside per week of Hernandez’s disappearance in September, an individual tried to extort money from his household in change for his secure return, however detectives decided the tried extortion was not associated to his disappearance. His mom had put up hundreds of fliers in hopes of discovering her son and subsequently fielded a number of requires ransom, The Times reported.

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