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Men Convicted of First Degree Murder in 2003 Highland Park Killing

(CNS) – Two men, including the husband of a Pico Rivera woman who was shot to death in a murder-for-hire plot more than eight years ago, were convicted Sept. 22 of her murder.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated less than two hours before finding Gustavo Alvarez, 47, and Joseph L. Sepulveda, 41, guilty of first-degree murder in the July 5, 2003, shotgun slaying of Virginia Alvarez in the parking lot of a Highland Park restaurant.

Jurors found true the special circumstance allegations of murder for financial gain and murder by means of lying in wait, along with an allegation that Sepulveda personally and intentionally discharged a shotgun.

The victim — who worked as a secretary for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department — had been involved in a bitter divorce and child custody dispute with her husband and then reconciled with him months before she was shot in the face as she got out of her 2003 blue Chevrolet Tahoe outside the restaurant where they were supposed to have dinner, according to Deputy District Attorney Eric Harmon.

Alvarez and Sepulveda are facing life in prison without the possibility of parole, with sentencing set Oct. 27 before Judge Robert J. Perry. Prosecutors had decided earlier not to seek the death penalty.