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Teen sentenced to life in prison in ‘thrill kill’ case

A Riverside County teenager was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for luring a man using a fake Facebook profile and then killing him, prosecutors said.

Manuel Edmundo Guzman Jr., 19, of San Jacinto was convicted in February of the murder of 23-year-old Eddie Leal in what the judge described during the sentencing hearing as a “thrill kill,” according to a statement from the Riverside County district attorney’s office. During the hearing, Guzman admitted to the murder.

Guzman was 17 at the time of the slaying, preventing prosecutors from pursuing the death penalty. He faced a sentence of either life in prison without parole or 50 years to life, prosecutors said. 

Prosecutors said Guzman created a Facebook profile for a made-up woman named Rebecca Santhiago, using photos of a model he found on the Internet. Using the profile, he contacted young men who he tried to lure out, prosecutors said.

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Leal was one of the men he reached out to, and on May 30, 2011, Leal agreed to go to a San Jacinto park, thinking he was going to meet the woman in the profile, prosecutors said.

He was later found dead in the driver’s seat of a Toyota Corolla, with multiple gunshot wounds.

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Twitter: @rar

rick.rojas@latimes.com

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