Killer in Botched Murder for Hire Sentenced to Life Without Parole
His voice trembling, Al Carver told a hushed courtroom Friday that as his wife lay in a hospital three years ago “with the back of her head blown away,” he made her two promises: He would find out who shot her and make sure the killer was punished.
Carver saw those promises kept when, moments after he spoke, a judge sentenced 43-year-old Leonard Owen Mundy, the man convicted of Jane Carver’s murder, to life in prison without parole.
The 46-year-old flight attendant was shot by mistake yards from her Fountain Valley home on June 10, 1995, in a complicated murder-for-hire plot gone awry. The killing, which stunned and perplexed the community, went unsolved for a year until police arrested Mundy.
A jury convicted Mundy of first-degree murder in June, accepting the prosecution’s theory that the Los Angeles man was involved in a murder plot with Premium Commercial Services Corp., a Huntington Beach finance company that wanted him to satisfy his $80,000 debt by murdering another delinquent borrower, whom the gunman mistakenly thought was Carver.
The jury also convicted Mundy of the special circumstances of lying in wait and killing for financial gain. The prosecution had initially sought the death penalty but dropped that plan without explanation before the trial began.
At the emotional sentencing in Orange County Superior Court, Al Carver referred to Mundy as an “assassin who valued money over human life.”
Outside court, he said Mundy “was a hit man--a paid hit man who very coldly walked up to Janie, shot her in the head and coolly walked away.”
On the day of the murder, Al Carver was inside his home paying bills when his wife went out for an early morning jog at nearby Mile Square Regional Park. After hearing screams, gunshots and police sirens, he stepped out of his home and went around the corner and saw his mortally wounded wife lying on the ground.
“She was no match for the bullet of an assassin,” he said. “An assassin who walked up to her and terrorized her.”
He was accompanied to court by the couple’s two sons, Cliff, 23, and Justin, 17. They were joined by about a dozen friends, many of them fellow flight attendants who had conducted a publicity campaign to find Jane Carver’s killer.
Longtime friend June Marini said she had favored a death sentence for Mundy.
“It’s more than he deserves, life without the possibility of parole,” said Marini, who called the world “a sadder place” without Carver.
Mundy did not speak during the sentencing. But he had several supporters in court who insisted to Judge Daniel Didier that an innocent man was being sent to prison.
“This is not the monster, the killer, the murderer that they have made him out to be,” said Brigitte Carl, the mother of Mundy’s two children. “He is not Jane Carver’s murderer. . . . He’s not some piece of trash who takes money to go and kill someone.”
Carl had testified that Mundy was with her when Carver was shot.
“I’m not a liar,” she said. “I would not get up and defend a murderer.”
Mundy’s lifelong friend, Louis Hudson, told the judge that eyewitnesses were standing too far away to positively identify Mundy as the killer. He then turned to the Carver family and said, “The satisfaction you have right now is false.”
Al Carver later said he had “no doubt” that Mundy killed his wife but said the reaction of Mundy’s family is understandable.
“I believe there was a side of Mundy that they didn’t want to see,” he said.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Jim Tanizaki said he was “very relieved for the Carver family that this ugly chapter in their lives is closed.”
Mundy’s case was intertwined with that of Paul Gordon Alleyne, a small-business owner in Los Angeles who also owed money to Premium. Alleyne was sentenced this month to 29 years to life in prison for another botched killing. He was convicted of trying to kill James Wengert, 51, who survived the attack and identified Alleyne as the man who shot him in a San Clemente parking garage on April 10, 1996.
The prosecution said that Mundy thought Jane Carver was Wengert’s wife, Margaret “Peggy” Wengert, who had filed a lawsuit against Premium and lived nearby. Tanizaki said both shootings were orchestrated by Coleman Allen, the co-founder of Premium who died of natural causes shortly before James Wengert was shot.