The killings were separated by time and distance, their only connection buried in shared roots to a 200-acre pistachio and alfalfa ranch in Lancaster.
The ranch is where Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Esfandiar "Steve" Kadivar was gunned down in 2006. Miles away and months later, the body of Efrain Martines would be found in the bed of his pickup truck, also shot to death, but with a different gun.
Over months of probing, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department homicide detectives built a case and eventually arrested four people on suspicion of murder. The latest chapter in the case closed Thursday when Antonio Martinez, 51, was convicted in both men's killings.
According to prosecutors, Kadivar's ranch hand, Nicolas Cordoba, 63, hired Martinez and Artur Verdin to kill Kadivar. He then brought in his friend, Martines, to lease the ranch over to him. Months later, the relationship between Martines and Cordoba soured, and Cordoba brought in a third gunman, Marco Garcia, to kill Martines, authorities said.
Martines was shot to death while he worked on the ranch and his body was moved miles off the property, prosecutors said. Martinez was accused of helping carry out the killing.
Martinez's conviction Thursday leaves only Verdin left to be tried. Cordoba, Martinez and Garcia are all scheduled to be sentenced next month. Jury selection in Verdin's trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 15.