Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

A panel of Fourth District Court of Appeal justices Friday upheld the conviction of a 31-year-old man involved in the killings of the father and sister of a friend’s ex-girlfriend in Anaheim Hills.

The justices upheld the conviction of Charles Anthony Murphy Jr., who was sentenced Jan. 17, 2014, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Murphy was convicted of the May 21, 2007, murders of Jayprakash Dhanak and his 20-year-old daughter, Karishma Dhanak, and the attempted murder of Leela Dhanak, Jayprakash Dhanak’s wife.

Iftekhar Murtaza was sentenced to death in March 2015 for his part in masterminding the murders.

Co-defendant Vitaliy Krasnoperov’s convictions were reversed on appeal in January 2015. He is awaiting a third trial as his first trial ended with a hung jury in May 2011.

Murphy’s appellate attorneys argued that there was not enough evidence to convict him, but the justices said the cellphone records showing his proximity to the crime scenes, his lies to investigators and a damning text message exchange with Murtaza were enough to prove his involvement.

The murder plot came about after Murtaza’s girlfriend of two years, Shayona Dhanak, broke up with him, prosecutor Howard Gundy said. Gundy argued that Murtaza wanted to create a crisis for his ex-girlfriend so she would run back into his arms.

Shayona Dhanak wanted to break up with her jealous boyfriend but didn’t know how to do it so her mother suggested she blame the split on religious differences, Gundy said. The Dhanaks were devout Hindus, and Murtaza at the time was a non-practicing Muslim.

When Krasnoperov dropped out of the picture due to an injury suffered in a motorcycle accident, Murtaza turned to another friend, Murphy.

Firefighters found the bodies of Jayprakash and Karishma Dhanak about 4:15 a.m. May 22, 2007, near a bike trail at Mason Regional Park in Irvine.

Karishma Dhanak appeared to have been burned alive and her throat was slashed.

–City News Service

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