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Murder Verdict Upheld in 1984 Jewel Robbery

An appellate court on Monday upheld the first-degree murder conviction of a former Canoga Park man who aided in the 1984 slaying of a Westminster jewelry store owner during a robbery.

The 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana found that the role of Hans J. Swaving in carrying out the fatal jewel robbery and then leading police on a chase justified a sentence of life without parole.

Shot to death in the robbery by another gunman was Juan E. Suarez, 38, owner of the family-run Jewelry Showcase at Beach and Westminster boulevards.

Associate Justice Edward J. Wallin, while noting that “I will not lose sleep because (Swaving) is in prison,” dissented from the majority opinion.

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Pointing to the upholding of a special circumstance that had made Swaving eligible for death, Wallin said the decision means that “virtually every armed robber is subject to the death penalty if his accomplice chooses to kill spontaneously, and he opts to assist an attempted homicide while in flight.”


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