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2 Men Guilty in Woman’s Death

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ending a family’s long wait for justice, two men were convicted Tuesday in the 1993 robbery and murder of a North Hills woman as she picked up her daughter from Bible study in Northridge.

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury convicted Etienne Michael Moore, 25, of robbing and fatally shooting Laurie Myles, 37, as she sat in her car with her son, who was 9. The getaway driver, LaCedrick Johnson, 23, was also convicted of robbery and murder in the case.

Myles’ family exploded in cries of joy and relief as the guilty verdicts were read. Her brother, Larry Hicks, had to be led from the courtroom by a bailiff.

The repeated guilty verdicts “kept hitting my heart like a ton of bricks” until he finally had to cry out, Hicks said.

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“Let’s just say I’ve been praying God’s will,” Myles’ widower, Philip Myles, said outside the courtroom. Then he led his dead wife’s family in prayer: “We thank you Lord, that you honored your word. . . . That you are a fair God and a just God.”

Joshua Myles, the victim’s son, who tried to save his mother after their attackers fled, said the verdict made him smile.

“It’s over,” the 15-year-old said softly. “She’s in a better place.”

Moore also was convicted, along with a third defendant, Shashonee Monette Solomon, 35, in the 1993 murder of Talin Kara Tarkhanian. Solomon ordered her killing after she broke off their relationship, and Moore was convicted of carrying out the crime.

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Deputy Dist. Attys. Janice Maurizi and Edwin Greene, who have been working on the case for years, congratulated the victims’ relatives outside court. The prosecutors declined to speak to reporters, citing a gag order issued Tuesday.

The Myles slaying was one in a series of armed follow-home robberies in 1993 that the jury tied to Moore and Johnson.

At a key point in the trial, an accomplice testified that he and Moore, a former Baptist high school basketball star, drove around the San Fernando Valley seeking victims in “nice” cars, whom they would follow to darkened streets and attack at gunpoint. He said they usually got as little as $10 or $20, which they split among two or three participants.

The most emotional testimony came from Joshua Myles, who was waiting with his mother to pick up his sister, Dana Martin, from a Bible study class the night they were attacked in September 1993.

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In heart-wrenching testimony that led some jurors to tears, Joshua told how, after the robbers left, he tried frantically to give his dying mother mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, to drive the car to safety and to get the attention of passersby.

Sleeping near windows terrified him after the killing, Joshua said Tuesday. Martin, now 22, said she has struggled with feelings of guilt because her mother was killed waiting for her.

She said she has come to believe that the defendants carry the blame. “Now it feels good that they caught them and they’re guilty,” she said.

Another sister, Michelle Martin, 26, cried as she described her relationship with her mother. “We talked 15, 20 times a day,” she said. “I still get flashes of: ‘Oh, I’ve got to tell my mom’ when things happen. I still want to call her today and tell her what happened. All the hopes and dreams I planned with her are gone.”

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The irony of Myles’ murder, Hicks added, is that “She would’ve helped these individuals [the defendants] if they’d only asked her,” Hicks said. “That’s why, without a doubt, they deserve to die.”

Tarkhanian was last seen by her parents shortly before leaving home to pick up Moore for a date. She was found the next day--Halloween 1993--in her sports car in Chatsworth, dead of a gunshot wound to the head.

Moore faces a second trial to decide whether he should be executed for the slaying.

Jurors could not decide what role, if any, Johnson played in the Tarkhanian murder. Although prosecutors have the option of retrying him for that crime, he already faces life in prison without the possibility of parole for Myles’ murder.

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Jurors also could not agree whether the motive behind Tarkhanian’s killing met special circumstances that merit the death penalty.

Prosecutors could decide to retry Solomon on the special circumstances. As it stands, he faces a sentence of 25 years to life for first-degree murder.


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