A state appeals court panel Wednesday upheld a man’s first-degree murder conviction for supplying the gun used to murder a woman whose body was dumped in a desolate area of northern Los Angeles County after she witnessed a shooting in Fresno.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal noted that there was evidence to allow a reasonable jury to conclude that Alex Richard Valdez knew what co-defendant Joshua Aaron Robertson was going to do and that he gave him the gun so the 26-year-old victim, Kimberly Harvill, could be “silenced.”
“Here, there was substantial evidence Robertson killed Harvill with Valdez’s gun to keep her from talking to the police and implicating them in the Fresno shooting,” the panel noted in its 23-page ruling.
Valdez was convicted in February 2019 of first-degree murder, with jurors finding true the special circumstance allegation of murder of a witness. He was sentenced in May 2019 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Robertson pleaded no contest in January 2019 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 had occurred days earlier. Her body was discovered near a shopping cart on Gorman Post Road in August 2016.
Robertson and his then-girlfriend, Brittney Sue Humphrey, who was the victim’s half-sister, subsequently kidnapped Harvill’s three children, who were 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.
Humphrey pleaded no contest in 2017 to kidnapping her half-sister’s three children and was sentenced to 13 years in state prison.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: