A man convicted of fatally shooting a witness — who had been on his way to court to testify in a robbery case against him — agreed Thursday to waive his appellate rights in exchange for a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole.
Jahmal Frazier, 29, of Compton, had faced a potential death sentence after being convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder for the April 5, 2011, slaying of Roshan Bhandari in an employee parking lot behind a 7-Eleven store on Artesia Boulevard in Bellflower, where the 23-year-old clerk worked.
The Norwalk jury also found true the special circumstance allegations of murder of a witness and murder while lying in wait, along with an allegation that Frazier personally and intentionally discharged a firearm causing death.
A day before he was killed, Bhandari had testified in Frazier’s robbery case. He was leaving his job to go back to court for a second consecutive day of questioning involving the October 2010 armed robbery by a masked assailant at the store when was shot five times, according to Deputy District Attorney Robert Villa.
Frazier was charged with Bhandari’s murder in 2013 while he was serving a 15-year state prison term after being convicted of robbing the store.
The agreement — in which Frazier waive his rights to appeal in exchange for the District Attorney’s Office agreement not to continue seeking a death sentence against him — was finalized about two hours after the penalty phase of Frazier’s trial got underway.
Before the agreement was announced, Deputy District Attorney Monique Preoteasa showed jurors courtroom surveillance footage of Bhandari walking to the stand in the robbery case.
“Those steps to the witness stand cost Roshan Bhandari his life,” Preoteasa told the panel.
While behind bars, Frazier — an admitted gang member — stabbed a jailhouse inmate during a June 2018 brawl, the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney David R. Evans had asked jurors to spare the life of his client, who was “raised on the streets of Compton” after being taken from his mother as a baby and placed in foster care.
Evans said Frazier suffered from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, an intellectual disability and post-traumatic stress disorder and that the young man had a IQ of 75.
Jurors were dismissed after the District Attorney’s Office agreed to the deal with Frazier for the life prison term.
Frazier is due back in court for formal sentencing on June 7.
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