A man was convicted Wednesday of murdering a woman who prosecutors said was killed and dumped in a desolate area of northern Los Angeles County because she was a witness to a shooting involving the defendant and her half-sister’s boyfriend, who then kidnapped the victim’s three children with the help of her sibling.
Jurors deliberated for less than a day before finding Alex Richard Valdez, 31, guilty of first-degree murder for the shooting death of 26-year-old Kimberly Harvill. The panel also found true the special circumstance allegation of killing a witness.
Valdez is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole, with sentencing set for March 1 in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
A second defendant, Joshua Aaron Robertson, 29, pleaded no contest Jan. 18 to one count each of first-degree murder possession of a flammable device and possession of a firearm by a felon, along with three counts of kidnapping and two unrelated arson charges. He was immediately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Prosecutors said Harvill was killed because she was a witness to a shooting in the Fresno area involving the two men that occurred days before she was murdered.
The woman’s body was discovered near a shopping cart on Gorman Post Road in August 2016, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Ken Perry told jurors in Valdez’s trial.
Robertson and his then-girlfriend, Brittney Sue Humphrey, who was the victim’s half-sister, subsequently kidnapped Harvill’s three children, then 2, 3 and 5 years old.
The children were found safe in August 2016 in a motel outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the care of a good Samaritan who notified law enforcement. Robertson and Humphrey were arrested the following day in Pueblo, Colorado, and were subsequently charged with Harvill’s murder.
Prosecutors subsequently filed an amended complaint charging Robertson and Valdez with Harvill’s killing, saying they did not believe they had enough evidence to proceed with a murder case against her half-sister.
Humphrey, then 23, pleaded no contest in 2017 to kidnapping her half-sister’s three children and was sentenced to 13 years in state prison.