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Killer of gas station attendant in Diamond Bar in 1994 may avoid life sentence

A man who was convicted of killing a gas station attendant during a robbery in Diamond Bar two decades ago may avoid a life sentence because he was a teenager when he committed the crime, authorities said Tuesday.

Lino Jesus Acero, 38, was 17 when he and an accomplice walked into an Arco gas station on Nov. 18, 1994, and approached the clerk, Mahfouz Ghabour, prosecutors said. Acero went behind the counter and shot Ghabour in the chest. Then he and his accomplice walked out empty-handed, officials said.

On Monday, a jury convicted of Acero in the killing and of using a handgun in the crime — which in most cases would lead to a life sentence without parole. But because of a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that such punishment for juveniles was cruel and unusual, Acero may have a chance of one day being released, officials said.

Acero faces at least 25 years to life in prison, authorities said. He’s scheduled to be sentenced June 10.

Ghabour’s killing went unsolved for decades. About 10 years after the crime, the case was featured on “America’s Most Wanted” with surveillance video of the attack. The show led to a tip, which pushed the investigation further.

On June 26, 2014, authorities arrested Acero in the killing. A witness during the trial testified that he was the shooter. The jury convicted him after about an hour of of deliberating Monday, prosecutors said.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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