Man Sentenced to 86 Years to Life for 1986 Murder

By City News Service

A former death row inmate who sent a letter to then-Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti in which he admitted fatally stabbing two men who he said “deserved what they got” was sentenced Oct. 9 to 86 years to life in state prison.

Tommy Adrian Trujeque’s sentence was handed down four months after the California Supreme Court upheld his first-degree murder conviction for the June 21, 1986, stabbing of his cousin’s boyfriend, Max Facundo, in South Gate, but overturned his death sentence and reversed his conviction for the other killing.

The panel unanimously found in its May 28 ruling that Trujeque was “improperly charged and subsequently convicted” of the Jan. 23, 1987, stabbing death of Raul Luis Apodaca at an East Los Angeles upholstery shop after the case against him was dismissed at least twice.

The panel also set aside the special circumstance findings that Trujeque, now 62, committed multiple murders and had a prior second-degree murder conviction.

The Supreme Court justices ruled that Trujeque’s prior murder conviction from 1971 for a third killing — the defendant was 16 at the time of the killing of Allen Rothenberg — was obtained in adult court “in violation of the double jeopardy clause” after he admitted an involuntary manslaughter charge in juvenile court.

Trujeque was charged with the killings of Facundo and Apodaca after he spoke with investigators while in custody in San Diego County more than 10 years after the killings.

In a 1998 letter that was sent to Garcetti, the defendant admitted he murdered both Apodaca and Facundo while “fully aware of all my mental faculties” and urged the prosecution to seek the death penalty against him.

The Supreme Court justices noted in their ruling that Trujeque’s letter also stated that “both of those cowards deserved what they got: death and an early expiration in life, to say the least!” and that if he “had the opportunity to do it over I would cut off their heads and send ‘em both to their family!”

After the Supreme Court’s decision, prosecutors opted not to retry Trujeque for Apodaca’s killing, according to Sarah Ardalani of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

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October 15, 2015  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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