Man guilty in deaths of UCI student's family

A Mission Hills man was convicted Wednesday for his role in the revenge-fueled murder of two people and an attempt to kill a third, prosecutors said.

Charles Anthony Murphy, 28, was convicted by a jury in Orange County Superior Court of two felony counts of murder, one felony count of attempted murder and one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

In March 2007, Shayona Dhanak, an 18-year-old UCI student, ended her two-year relationship with Iftekhar Murtaza, now 28, according to prosecutors. Murtaza, a non-practicing Muslim, attributed the break-up to his ex-girlfriend's family, who frowned on the relationship because they were Hindu, prosecutors said.

Murtaza messaged friend Vitaliy Krasnoperov, now 27, and said he wanted to kill his ex-girlfriend's mother and father, according to the D.A.'s office. Krasnoperov, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole last month, said he knew someone who "used to do this type of work."

Prosecutors say that's when Murphy was brought on and offered $30,000 for "a job." The same day, Shayona's father, Jaypraykash Dhanak, 56, and sister, Karishma Dhanak, 20, were killed and her mother, Leela Dhanak, was seriously injured.

The defendants allegedly entered the Dhanaks' home the night of May 21, 2007, and restrained, beat and stabbed Jaypraykash Dhanak, detained Karishma Dhanak, and attacked and stabbed Leela Dhanak when she arrived home from work before the three allegedly set fire to the Anaheim Hills home.

Someone at a nearby park spotted the fire and ran toward the house, and the suspects allegedly put Jaypraykash Dhanak and Karishma Dhanak in a van and left Leela Dhanak unconscious on her neighbor's lawn, prosecutors said.

The three men are accused of killing Jaypraykash Dhanak and Karishma Dhanak at a bike trail at Mason Regional Park in Irvine and setting their bodies on fire. Leela Dhanak was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. She spent three weeks in a coma and more than a month in a hospital following the incident, prosecutors said.

Murphy was arrested about three months after the murders. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole at his sentencing Jan. 4.

Murtaza awaits trial for his alleged involvement in the killings and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Twitter: @lawilliams30

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