The California Supreme Court Thursday upheld the conviction and death sentence of the co-owner of a gold trading company for masterminding his estranged wife’s murder in a Century City parking garage amid an acrimonious divorce battle nearly 12 years ago.
The state’s highest court rejected the defense’s contention that there were numerous errors in James Michael Fayed’s trial, including the admission of the defendant’s surreptitiously recorded jailhouse statement in which he made incriminating statements to a cellmate while in federal custody for an alleged money licensing violation.
Fayed was convicted in May 2011 of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the July 28, 2008, slaying of Pamela Fayed. Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations of murder for financial gain and murder while lying in wait.
The 44-year-old victim was stabbed 13 times as she approached her SUV in a parking garage at Watt Tower just after the Fayeds had met with their criminal attorneys as a result of a federal investigation into the couple’s gold-trading business.
Fayed was tried separately from three other men who were also convicted in the deadly attack. The California Supreme Court refused in 2018 to review the case against Jose Luis Moya, Steven Vicente Simmons and Gabriel Marquez, who are each serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In a February 2018 ruling that upheld the convictions of the three men, a state appellate court panel noted that “Marquez was the link between Moya, who was paid to kill Pamela, and Simmons, who the evidence showed probably did the actual killing.” Moya had worked as a ranch hand at Fayed’s Ventura County ranch.
In the 94-page ruling authored by Supreme Court Justice Ming Chin, the panel noted that Fayed’s initial hesitation to talk to his cellmate “gave way to extended diatribes of how Moya and others bungled previous attempts to kill Pamela and how defendant did not want to be worried that Moya would turn on him” and that Fayed admitted he would have killed his wife himself but would never “get away with it.”
“The record contains ample evidence that defendant aided and abetted Moya’s killing of Pamela by lying in wait,” Chin wrote on behalf of the panel, with the other six justices concurring.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy went along with the jury’s recommendation of a death sentence for Fayed, calling the woman’s killing “cold-blooded, vicious and brutal.”
She noted at his November 2011 sentencing that Fayed was nearby as his wife was being killed and that others reacted to the victim’s “blood-curdling screams.”
“That is one cold, calculated human being, Mr. James Fayed — doesn’t feel anything,” the judge said
Kennedy added that surveillance video showed Fayed outside the parking garage “totally immune to the screams of his wife, the mother of his child.”
“He did nothing to warn her, to protect her, to call off the dogs, so to speak,” the judge said, noting that there was “nothing mitigating about the fact the defendant hired others to do his dirty work.”
The Fayeds were in the midst of a bitter divorce.
Based on the taped conversation with the jailhouse informant, prosecutors contended that Fayed contracted the hit on his estranged wife because he believed the mother of two would cooperate with federal investigators and because she could have ended up with half of the couple’s marital assets in a divorce.
Prosecutors also alleged that Fayed planned to arrange more killings from behind bars in hopes of eliminating the people who committed the crime for him.
One of Fayed’s trial attorneys, Mark Werksman, said in 2011 that his client maintained his innocence throughout the case and that he believed his client had been “denied a fair trial.”
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