Man Found Guilty of Killing Valley Couple

Times Staff Writer

A 25-year-old man was found guilty of murder Wednesday in the stabbing deaths of the owners of a popular North Hollywood restaurant more than two years ago.

Israel Cabrera Pulido of Sylmar will be sentenced Friday by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Barry Taylor in Van Nuys. He faces life in prison without parole.

The jury deliberated for three hours Wednesday before returning guilty verdicts on two counts of premeditated murder, one count of residential burglary and two counts of residential robbery with special circumstances of robbery, burglary, torture and multiple murder to avoid arrest.

Pulido was part of a three-man crew that installed a wood floor for Sabato and Eugenia Russo, both 73, at their North Hollywood home in November 2000. Authorities said Pulido went back to the house alone a few days later to commit the robbery and slayings.

Several items taken from the ransacked house were found at Pulido's residence, as were two knives believed to have been used in the stabbings.

The Russos' daughter and her husband, who handled daily operations at Sabatino's Italian Restaurant and Bakery for her parents, began worrying when Sabato Russo failed to show up with a delivery of pie boxes the day before Thanksgiving.

Los Angeles Fire Department personnel found the bodies Nov. 22 after forcing their way into the house. Police found no evidence of forced entry at the home.

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