A transient was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the bludgeoning death of a friend of Canadian talk show host George Stroumboulopoulos during a burglary at the celebrity’s rented home in the Hollywood Hills.
Keenon Jamal Buchanan, now 27, was convicted Aug. 18 of first-degree murder for the Sept. 23, 2016, killing of 41-year-old Richard Hong, who was staying at the home in the 6700 block of Milner Road.
Jurors found true the special circumstance allegation of murder during the course of a burglary.
Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen noted that legislation is pending to allow a judge to order the dismissal of a special circumstance allegation. But Coen said he wanted to make the record clear he would not strike that enhancement, because “it would not be in the interests of justice” and would allow a shorter sentence than Buchanan “deserves.”
Buchanan was arrested in Arizona just over a week after the slaying.
Shortly before being sentenced, he said he has difficulty remembering if he was in the house or took the victim’s cell phone, but acknowledged he had the phone with him when he was taken into custody.
“At the time I was in … Los Angeles, I was homeless so I didn’t have a proper place to sleep. … On top of that, I was intoxicated,” the defendant said.
Buchanan said he hoped the victim’s family would find peace, and told them he couldn’t imagine how they feel or what they are going through.
The victim’s sister, Virginia, told the judge that her brother would go out of his way for his “friends from all walks of life” and would have helped his assailant with cash if he had been asked.
“Does he realize how much pain he has caused his family and us?” she said of the defendant.
In a statement released in September 2016, Stroumboulopoulos wrote, “Many of you have seen the reports of a homicide … in the home I rent in Los Angeles.”
The talk show host wrote that “the victim was a dear friend of mine, who was staying at my place while I was away.”
“I am heartbroken,” he added.