California Supreme Court building. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
California Supreme Court building. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to review the case against one of three men convicted of the January 2009 murder of a San Pedro woman who was found shot to death inside her car.

The state’s highest court denied the defense petition filed on behalf of former Whittier resident Michael Bonfiglio, whose conviction was upheld Oct. 2 by a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal.

In its ruling, the appellate court panel rejected the defense’s contention that there was insufficient evidence against Bonfiglio to support the jury’s finding on a special circumstance allegation that Ginie Samayoa was murdered during the commission of a robbery.

Bonfiglio was convicted in March 2012 of first-degree murder for the 27- year-old woman’s Jan. 30, 2009, killing, along with one count each of conspiracy to commit a crime and second-degree robbery. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Two other Whittier men, Raul Tiscareno and Daniel Keith Martinez, were tried separately, convicted of Samayoa’s killing and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Their appeals are still pending.

Samayoa’s body was found in the driver’s seat of her red Toyota Tercel, in an alley behind a San Pedro diner. Authorities said the woman had been engaged in identity theft and that her laptop computer was stolen from her during the attack, in which the three men were riding in her car after leaving with her from her apartment about two blocks away.

In its ruling last year, the state appellate court panel found that “Samayoa was a small woman and the jury could rationally conclude that it did not take three men and a gun to rob her of a laptop computer and that they brought the gun to the robbery to kill her. Bonfiglio structured the robbery in a way that shifted responsibility for the killing to Martinez and Tiscareno, making him less likely to be a target for retribution.”

The appellate court justices noted Bonfiglio’s claim that he had withdrawn from the plan to rob her by the time of the shooting, but wrote that the jury “did not believe his explanations” and that it was “entirely rational for the jury to conclude Bonfiglio intended to rob and kill Samayoa.”

City News Service

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