A Los Angeles man was convicted Monday of murdering a clerk at a Los Feliz gas station and the owner of a Mar Vista medical marijuana dispensary during robberies that were carried out one day apart and were caught on video.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for roughly five hours before convicting Kayshon Moody, 27, of two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of second-degree robbery. The panel of eight women and four men also found various gun allegations to be true, including that Moody was the gunman in both murders.
Moody is set to be sentenced Nov. 15 and is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Moody was indicted last year for the Jan. 17, 2017, shooting death of M.D. Mizu Rahman, 34, at a Chevron station in the 2100 block of North Vermont Avenue and the shooting death of Ovik Oganesyan, 50, at a medical marijuana dispensary at 12480 W. Venice Blvd. a day later, along with a separate robbery at a fast-food restaurant shortly before Rahman’s slaying.
Co-defendant James A. Eastland, 22, pleaded guilty Sept. 21 to murder and robbery charges involving Oganesyan’s killing, along with an unrelated robbery. He testified for the prosecution in Moody’s trial and is facing 40 years to life in state prison, with sentencing set for Nov. 30.
Eastland told jurors that Moody had talked with him about wanting to commit a robbery and told him he knew of a marijuana dispensary that didn’t have a security guard. But he said he didn’t realize they were going to rob the Golden State Dispensary until Moody informed him when they arrived at the rear of the building. He said he waited in the lobby until he heard gunshots, then ran toward a locked door, jumped through the shattered reception window and began grabbing jars of marijuana as Oganesyan pleaded for help.
Eastland said he didn’t recall stepping over the mortally wounded man to get to the business’ safe, but realized he had once he watched surveillance video of the crime.
Eastland — who said he had known Moody for about five months before the killing — said his friend subsequently directed him to rob a store to get more cash, with Moody saying he couldn’t go into the business because people there knew him.
Eastland said the two subsequently drove to Las Vegas, where Moody shot at another motorist who chased after him following a rear-end collision. Prosecutors contended Moody also shot and wounded a man during an attempted carjacking soon after the crash, but he was not charged with any crimes in Nevada.
The two men were pulled over and arrested by Los Angeles police on Jan. 20, 2017, shortly after they returned to Southern California.
In her closing argument in Moody’s trial, Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told jurors that no mercy was shown to the victims, who were “taken by surprise” and each shot in the back in acts of “gratuitous” violence, even though the victims were “compliant” and “submissive.”
The prosecutor called the crimes “extremely ruthless” and said the victims were “savagely murdered” in crimes caught on video.
DNA evidence from a soda cup lid found at the scene of Rahman’s killing and on a 9 mm Beretta — the murder weapon that was found in the driver’s side pocket of the Nissan Versa Moody was driving when he and Eastland were arrested — linked Moody to the killings, Silverman said.
Moody’s driver’s license, which was seen falling from his hands in the surveillance video at the marijuana dispensary — was left behind at the scene, the prosecutor said, telling jurors there was a “mountain of evidence in this case.”
Defense attorney Hui Kim told jurors she understood they would feel sympathy for the victims, but asked them to “objectively determine” whether Moody was responsible for the killings. She urged the panel to question Eastland’s testimony linking Moody to Oganesyan’s killing, noting that he had acknowledged lying to detectives in the past and was “receiving a benefit for testifying.”
“Someone who’s motivated in that manner can’t be trusted,” Moody’s lawyer told jurors.