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Verna Killer Convicted of 14 Robberies

Times Staff Writer

Kenneth Gay, one of two men convicted last week of murdering police officer Paul Verna, was found guilty Wednesday of 14 additional charges for his part in a six-week string of robberies preceding the murder.

Gay, 27, listened impassively in San Fernando Superior Court as the same jury that convicted him of murdering Verna returned the robbery verdicts after deliberating for less than two days.

Gay was convicted of 10 counts of robbery, two counts of attempted robbery, one count of conspiracy to commit robbery and one count of being an ex-convict in possession of a gun for the violent robberies he and Raynard Cummings, 28, committed in the San Fernando Valley between April 25 and June 4, 1983.

Testimony of Victims

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During the trial, victims testified that Gay threatened and beat them during 14 armed robberies at fast-food restaurants, a dry cleaner’s store, a home decorating store and an auto repair shop, all in the Valley.

Gay, who also was convicted of beating three of the victims, could receive at least 25 years in state prison for the robberies.

The jury is scheduled to begin hearing testimony next week to decide whether Gay should be sentenced to death or life in prison without possibility of parole for killing Verna, 35, on June 2, 1983, during a routine traffic stop in Lake View Terrace.

Deputy Dist. Atty. John Watson, who prosecuted the case, told jurors that both Gay and Cummings shot Verna, a Medal of Valor winner, when they became afraid he would arrest them because they were in a stolen car driven by Cummings’ wife, Pamela, who was not carrying a driver’s license.

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The two had bragged to friends and relatives during the weeks before the killing that they would shoot anyone who “got in the way,” witnesses testified at their trial.

Cummings pleaded guilty in October before Judge Dana Senit Henry to 17 charges in connection with the robberies, forcing the two-month murder trial to be held before separate juries. Cummings’ jury is scheduled to begin hearing death-penalty arguments on June 24.


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