A security guard currently in jail awaiting trial in the murder of a Brentwood high school student has been plotting the assassinations of a judge, a prosecutor and a police detective involved in the case, Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner said Wednesday.
Reiner said he was announcing the alleged “unprecedented” multiple-murder plot because the would-be contract killers are still at large.
“We are trying right now to deter any of those people that he (the jailed suspect) may have been in contact with from taking the next step in this conspiracy to commit murder by making this simply too hot to handle,” a grim Reiner told a press conference.
The plot was apparently to be financed at least in part by cocaine and was to have been made to look like a drive-by gang shooting.
The suspect is Rodney D. Garmanian, 32, who has been held in Los Angeles County Jail without bail since his arrest on charges of kidnaping, raping, robbing and murdering Teak Dyer on June 22.
The intended targets in the contract-murder plot, Reiner said, are Municipal Judge David M. Horwitz, Deputy Dist. Atty. Harvey Giss and LAPD Detective John Rockwood. Since Monday, all three men have been placed under around-the-clock armed protection by county marshals.
Horwitz in August ordered Garmanian to stand trial for the 18-year-old woman’s murder after presiding over a nine-day preliminary hearing. The trial is set to begin in January in Santa Monica Superior Court. If convicted, Garmanian could get the death penalty.
Dyer, a Palisades High School senior, was found shot to death in a second-floor restroom in an office building at 15200 Sunset Boulevard on the morning of June 22.
An investigation into the alleged contract-murder plot began about a month ago when Garmanian approached another inmate in the County Jail who, it turned out, is a police informant. Reiner said Garmanian told the informant that he wanted someone killed. The informant alerted Reiner’s office.
During the ensuing investigation, two undercover Los Angeles Police Department officers posed as potential hit men.
On Wednesday, Reiner played a seven-minute tape recording of a telephone conversation that occurred Oct. 11 between one of the undercover officers and Garmanian, in which a jaunty Garmanian spoke of the plot.
“The biggest thing is the detective right off the bat,” Garmanian said on the tape. " . . . It’s first the dick. First. That’s the one that I really have to have.”
At another point, he told the undercover officer: " . . . First, it’s Rockwood . . . then the other two.”
After playing the tape, Reiner said: “Our immediate concern, based on information that just came to our attention, is that he (Garmanian) has been in contact with other people--other than our undercover officers--that there are other people out there who may be taking the next step to carry out this conspiracy to commit murder.”
The district attorney added: “What we’re trying to do here is to make this too hot to handle so that they would be deterred from taking the next step.”
Reiner declined to reveal other information about the potential hired killers. But he added, “We do have multiple (taped) conversations emanating from the County Jail involving Garmanian.
“There are people that he (Garmanian) is in contact with outside of County Jail that give us substantial cause for concern that he has the (financial) means and the ability to carry out this conspiracy,” Reiner said.
He also declined to answer a question about whether there have already been attempts to kill the targeted men.
In the tape played Wednesday, Garmanian repeatedly refers to “my people” and “my partner” who, he said, would get him the home addresses of Horwitz, Giss and Rockwood. “As soon as we get the address, it can be anytime,” Garmanian said.
When the undercover police officer said the proposed murders would point back to Garmanian, he responded: “No, man. They’re not gonna get any of this back to me. They can’t. They can’t. They can’t get my people either.” At another point, evidently referring to his “people,” Garmanian said, “I can always get rid of them afterwards.”
Garmanian, of Reseda, is expected to be arraigned before the end of the week on three counts of solicitation of murder. If convicted, the maximum penalty is between two and six years, Reiner said, adding: “That’s not very much at all, is it?”
When Dyer was found, she had three bullet holes in the upper torso and her wrists bore bruises that suggested she had been handcuffed. The previous evening, she had attended a graduation party at the Santa Monica Pier.
She was last seen alive by a girlfriend about 12:30 a.m. on June 22. The friend said she left Dyer waiting in a car while she went to a party in Pacific Palisades.
Garmanian, employed at the time by MacGuard Security Systems, has denied any involvement in Dyer’s murder. But fingerprints, scratches and a bullet found beneath Dyer’s body linked him to the crime, prosecutors said. Authorities said Garmanian has no previous criminal record.
Horwitz was not in his courtroom Wednesday, and Detective Rockwood could not be reached. Giss, an affable veteran prosecutor whose life has been threatened before, reacted to Wednesday’s disclosure of the murder plot with aplomb, at least outwardly, as colleagues stopped by his office to offer words of support.
To one person, Giss joked, “I guess we’re not going to answer our door on Halloween this year.”