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Killer sentenced in 1979 West L.A. strangulation murder

HomicideCrimeCrime, Law and JusticeCourts and the JudiciaryWindham (Windham, Connecticut)

A 57-year-old man was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years to life in prison for a strangulation murder that went unsolved for more than two decades.

Leonard Alex Dominguez was convicted in November of second-degree murder in the death of Sandra Phillips, a West Los Angeles woman who was found strangled in her apartment.

When Phillips’ friends found her on the afternoon of April 9, 1979, she was lying face-down in her bedroom with her black leather pants around her ankles, authorities said.

Authorities found sperm on Phillips’ body and labeled the death as a “sexually motivated crime.”

But the initial investigation yielded no suspects and the case went unsolved for 28 years.

Using DNA technology, detectives arrested Dominguez in 2010.

Dominguez’s attorney, Victor Acevedo, filed motions for a new trial contending evidence that could have cleared his client’s name had been lost since the initial investigation.

He also contended a defense expert’s testimony skewed the case.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Windham dismissed both motions but did dismiss an allegation of great bodily injury.

“A heinous crime was committed and a life was taken. I think the fair thing is to sentence Mr. Dominguez to 15 years to life,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Jane Creighton.

Dominguez’s family said they plan to appeal.

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james.barragan@latimes.com
Twitter: @James_Barragan

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