LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A state appeals court panel today upheld a Pasadena man’s conviction for strangling the mother of his two children and leaving her body in her car on a Monrovia street.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal found that the prosecution had presented “compelling evidence” of Jose Roberto Turner’s “motive and intent to kill” his ex-girlfriend, LaJoya McCoy, 31, of Monrovia, along with his presence at the crime scene.
According to the appellate court panel’s 22-page ruling, Turner “wrote about his anger at McCoy and his intent to kill her shortly before the murder. He had displayed stalking behavior and jealousy when McCoy was in the presence of other men. He slashed her tires and took documents from her apartment. Significantly, forensic evidence connected him to the murder, since his DNA was present at the crime scene and he was a possible contributor to the DNA mixture in her fingernails. Furthermore, he displayed consciousness of guilt when he failed to help McCoy’s family and police.”
The justices rejected the defense’s contention that jurors should not have heard the testimony of a former girlfriend who described Turner has having been controlling and physically abusive during their relationship more than two decades earlier. The appellate court panel noted the “substantial similarities” between the acts described by the ex-girlfriend and the evidence against Turner at trial, finding that it shows that the defendant “engaged in a similar pattern of abuse against both women.”
McCoy — who worked as an accountant with the city of Los Angeles and owned a clothing boutique — was reported missing after she failed to show up for some scheduled appointments.
Police went to her home in the 8000 block of West Olive Avenue and found evidence of foul play, including blood stains on the mattress, carpet and wall in the master bedroom.
Her body, which was covered with a blanket and a child’s car seat, was subsequently discovered about a mile away, inside her car, about 4:30 a.m. on June 16, 2015. Authorities determined that she had been strangled and stabbed behind her left ear.
Turner was arrested about 2 1/2 months later by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies.
He was sentenced last year to 26 years to life in state prison after being convicted of first-degree murder. Jurors also found true an allegation that he had used a rope in the commission of the attack.