Boyfriend of wife of slain hairdressing mogul pleads guilty to murder

Paramedics found Fabio Sementilli bleeding from multiple stab wounds at this gated house in Woodland Hills in 2017.
(Richard Vogel / Associated Press)
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The man accused of brutally stabbing a hairdressing mogul to death at his Woodland Hills home in a 2017 murder fueled by an extramarital affair pleaded guilty to the crime Friday, and will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Robert Baker, 61, admitted that he killed celebrity hairdresser Fabio Sementilli on Jan. 23, 2017, leaving him in a pool of blood in what was initially thought to be a home-invasion robbery gone wrong. He was immediately sentenced to life without parole by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen after a steady stream of Sementilli’s loved ones told the court how the mogul’s slaying did irreparable damage to their family.

“I will never heal from this and there will never be closure for our family,” said Stephanie Avola, who was Sementilli’s niece through marriage. “There will always be an emptiness in the shape of Fabio that can never be filled.”


Six months after the killing, Los Angeles police detectives arrested Baker, and the hair mogul’s wife, Monica Sementilli, revealing they had been in a relationship before the killing. Prosecutors alleged they killed the 49-year-old Canadian-born hair stylist as part of a plot to collect $1.6 million in life insurance.

“Fabio Sementilli was directly targeted in this case,” said then-Los Angeles Police Dept. Capt. Billy Hayes, who led the agency’s Robbery-Homicide Division. “Monica Sementilli and Robert Baker were involved in an intimate relationship for a year and half.”

Monica Sementilli’s trial is still pending, and she and Baker have been held in custody for over five years.

Initially, when LAPD responded to the home and found Robert Sementelli stabbed to death, it was considered to be the work of knock-knock burglars who plagued parts of San Fernando Valley. But while the home’s master bedroom was ransacked, the assailants never took the hair mogul’s valuable watch on his wrist, piquing the interest of detectives, Hayes said. Security surveillance footage showed two hooded men jogging up to the home before the slaying. Afterward, the men drove away in Sementilli’s Porsche and were recorded on another surveillance camera as they abandoned the vehicle five miles away.

In an apparent attempt to cover up their actions, the two men took a video recording system hidden in the garage of the home that captured video from six different cameras around the house, prosecutors said.

Detectives closed in on Baker after discovering blood in the abandoned Porsche. His DNA had previously been captured after he was convicted of a lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor in 1993 and forced to register as a sex offender, Hayes said at the time.


A grand jury indictment eventually revealed the motive in the gruesome killing went beyond money.

Prosecutors alleged Monica Sementilli told Baker how to remove the home’s video recording system. They presented evidence that she and Baker had remote access to the video security system and accused Monica of watching a live feed of the area shortly before the killing to ensure Baker had a clear path to her husband. Prosecutors alleged that she even let her 16-year-old daughter come home first and discover the crime scene.

“Monica fully intended for Fabio to be murdered,” Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Beth Silverman told a grand jury in 2017. “She wanted him out of the way because she wants to be with Robert Baker. She’s unhappy in her marriage, even though at the same time she’s acting like the loving, adoring wife.”

During Friday’s hearing, many of the victim’s loved ones expressed disgust with Monica’s betrayal, with some noting she seemed “insincere” in her mourning of her husband back in 2017.

Loretta Picillo, Sementilli’s older sister, said she still can’t forget the way Monica feigned grief side by side with their family even after she allegedly played a role in her husband’s death. Others said the killing left them so paranoid that they either increased security at their homes or now refuse to sit anywhere in public where their back is exposed.

“You never know who is conspiring against you,”said Anthony Picillo, the victim’s nephew.

Monica Sementilli has pleaded not guilty and denied all wrongdoing.

“We are confident that Robert Baker’s guilty pleas, and his truthful testimony will finally establish, once and for all, that Monica Sementilli had nothing to do with the planning or the murder of Fabio Sementilli, her husband,” said her attorney, Leonard Levine. “We are looking forward to the trial we believe will establish that fact.”


Fabio Sementilli, was a vice president of education for the cosmetics giant Cory.

“Sementilli mentored tens of thousands of hairdressers with a hands-on approach either on a one-to-one basis or on a grander scale,” Modern Salon, an industry publication, once wrote of him.

After her brother’s death, Mirella Rota Sementilli said on Facebook that her brother had a “profound existence” that affected family, colleagues, friends and the beauty industry.

“You left behind precious memories that we will forever hold close to our hearts,” she wrote. “I will never accept the suffering they put you through because being your older sister meant experiencing all your pain with you. I’m so hurt and I hope you will give me strength and guidance to live the life you were so proud of.”

Days before his death, Fabio Sementilli had posted a photograph of his 1987 hairstylist certification on Facebook in celebration of his 30 years of work in the field.

“[Thirty years] ago today I received my hairstylist certification and my professional career started with optimism, an immigrant family work ethic with no pedigree in hairdressing to speak of but I had a strong conviction with hopes and dreams,” he wrote.