Death Sentences Upheld for 2 in Slaying of Officer

The state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death sentences of two Pacoima men convicted of murdering a police officer during a routine traffic stop in 1983.

In a 6-1 ruling, the court found that Kenneth Gay and Raynard Cummings received a fair trial for the slaying of LAPD Officer Paul Verna, who was shot to death in Lake View Terrace after he pulled the men over in a stolen car. Gay and Cummings were on parole and implicated in 13 violent robberies throughout the San Fernando Valley at the time, and prosecutors contended the two were afraid Verna would arrest them.

Each defendant said the other did all the shooting, but prosecutors said Cummings fired the first shot at Verna from the back seat of the car, then handed the gun to Gay, who pumped five more bullets into the officer’s body.