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Newlywed convicted of throwing his bride off a cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes

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A 28-year-old Torrance man has been convicted of throwing his bride off a cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Brandon Manai, who was found guilty of first-degree murder Thursday in the death of Julie Rosas, 24, faces 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced in February, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Jodi Link.

Manai, who was on probation for choking his girlfriend as a teenager, had dated Rosas only a short time before they were married June 19, 2005, in Las Vegas. The relationship had been rocky, with late-night arguments, Manai showing up at Rosas’ workplace unannounced, and incessant phone calls and text messages, Link said. And things did not change after their wedding. Within 48 hours of the ceremony, Rosas was asking her friends how to seek an annulment.

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Nearly two weeks later, on July 2, Manai picked up Rosas and was supposed to drive her to a downtown L.A. nightclub where she would meet up with girlfriends. Cellphone signals showed the pair made it to downtown, but they never made it to the club and her friends never heard from her, according to the prosecutor.

Cellphone records show the pair went to a cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes. About 2:30 a.m. July 3, Manai threw Rosas 200 feet to her death, Link said. Her body was found by a beachgoer 12 hours later. The next day, Manai confessed to a friend over lunch. That individual testified during the trial.

Manai spent the next three days covering up his crime -- destroying Rosas’ belongings, calling her home and looking for her, using her cellphone to place calls and writing a diary entry in which he wondered where his wife was, Link said. Notably, he did not send her a single text, a marked change from before July 3, when he sent her up to 55 texts per day.

Rosas’ body lay at the morgue, unidentified, until July 6, when her family filed a missing persons report. Once she was identified and police questioned Manai, he denied ever being in Rancho Palos Verdes with Rosas, but his cellphone records proved he was lying, Link said.

The jury deliberated for six hours before convicting Manai.

seema.mehta@latimes.com

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