Hollywood man found guilty in ‘instant message’ killings


A Hollywood man who sent instant messages telling a friend how to kill his ex-girlfriend’s family was found guilty Thursday of murdering two people and attempting to murder a third.

Vitaliy Krasnoperov, 26, helped Ifetkar Murtaza, 27, of Van Nuys devise an elaborate plan to kill the family of Murtaza’s ex-girlfriend, Shayona Dhanak, after she broke up with him, prosecutor Howard Gundy said.

Dhanak’s parents were devout Hindus who disapproved of the relationship with Murtaza, a non-practicing Muslim, Gundy said.


Krasnoperov was never implicated in the physical killings because he was housebound after a motorcycle accident. But Gundy alleged that he helped in the planning and subsequent coverup.

“He helped do these killings. He sent the instant messages, and he did contact people to help Murtaza kill this family,” Gundy said.

Krasnoperov’s attorney, Fred McBride, told jurors that it would be “dangerous” find a man guilty for his Internet expressions: “We don’t convict people for their thoughts.”

The burned bodies of Dhanak’s father, Jaypraykash Dhanak, 56, and her sister, Karishma Dhanak, 20, were found in 2007 on a bike trail near UC Irvine. Her mother, Leela Dhanak, 54, was found badly beaten and burned outside their Anaheim Hills home.

Jurors deadlocked Thursday on whether Charles Murphy Jr., 27, of Mission Hills carried out the killings at Murtaza’s behest. Murtaza allegedly exchanged a series of text messages with Murphy, his childhood friend, on May 21, 2007, and offered him $30,000 “for a job.”

Prosecutors said Murtaza, who is awaiting trial on capital murder charges, blamed Shayona Dhanak’s parents for the breakup. He hatched a plot to kill the family after contacting Krasnoperov online and telling him he wanted to kill the family so the couple could date again, prosecutors said.


After Murtaza said he did not know how to kill them, Krasnoperov advised him “to burn the house down.”

“I mean we’re not professional killers ... probably better to if we hire someone,” Krasnoperov later wrote before offering to contact someone he knew who “used to do this type of work.”

According to prosecutors, assailants entered the Dhanaks’ home and forcibly restrained Jayprakash Dhanak. They then beat and stabbed him repeatedly before putting him in a bathroom while waiting for his wife and daughter to arrive home, prosecutors said.

Leela Dhanak was stabbed in the stomach and doused with gasoline, prosecutors said. The assailants then set the house on fire.

Prosecutors said the commotion and flames attracted neighbors. The assailants forced the father and daughter into a waiting van and fled. Officers found the wife unconscious on a neighbor’s lawn and the family home engulfed in flames.

Anaheim police quickly tied Murtaza to the attack. Krasnoperov was arrested a month later, and Murphy was taken into custody in August 2007.


During the trial, Murphy’s attorney sought to show that prosecutors could not connect his client to the crime except with cellphone records that were inexact. Gundy said prosecutors will seek to retry Murphy.

Krasnoperov was found guilty of two felony counts of special circumstances murder, one felony count of attempted murder and one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder.He faces life in state prison without the possibility of parole.