Local News in Brief : Van Nuys Man Gets 31 Years to Life in Murder Over Drugs

A 36-year-old Van Nuys man was sentenced Wednesday to 31 years to life in prison for the Jan. 15, 1984, kidnaping and murder of Jon Cassanelli, 28, of North Hollywood after a feud involving drugs.

Steven Richard Zimmer, 36, was found guilty of the charges Sept. 19 by a Van Nuys Superior Court jury, which acquitted him on two other murder counts. If Zimmer had been convicted of multiple murders, he could have been sentenced to death.

Judge Darlene Schempp sentenced Zimmer to 25 years to life for the murder and added five years for kidnaping and one year because a gun was used in the crime.

An eyewitness to the Cassanelli slaying testified during the trial that Zimmer and his co-defendant, Timothy Hoban, grew angry with Cassanelli because he was skimming drugs from a cocaine operation run by the two defendants. The witness, Deborah J. Stalder, said that the two men took Cassanelli to a remote area near Kanan Dume Road in Agoura and that Hoban shot him in the head.

Hoban is awaiting trial on the murder charge in Van Nuys Superior Court.

Zimmer and Hoban were linked only through circumstantial evidence to the killings several days later of Virginia Rosenberg, 30, of North Hollywood and Steve Migliore, 21, of Panorama City. The two guns used in the three killings were recovered from a safe deposit box rented by Zimmer and Hoban.

The jury found Zimmer not guilty of those slayings. And a judge ruled at a pretrial hearing that there was insufficient evidence to link Hoban to the two murders.

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