His Teen Wife Was Murdered in Front of Him—at His Request

Morrad Ghonim found guilty in wife's 1992 murder
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2016 11:15 AM CST
His Teen Wife Was Murdered in Front of Him—at His Request
Booking photo for Morrad Ghonim.   (Miami-Dade County via the LA Times)

On July 23, 1992, Morrad Ghonim watched his 17-year-old wife die. The couple had taken their 6-month-old son to Creek Park in La Mirada, Calif. Ghonim said he felt uncomfortable after a group of people called out at his wife and he wanted to leave, reports the Los Angeles Times. But as they made to drive off, a gunman approached the passenger door, demanded money, and murdered his wife. Now, 24 years later, a jury has decided who was responsible for Vicki Ghonim's death: then-19-year-old Morrad Ghonim. The 43-year-old, who was extradited from Antigua last year, was on Monday found guilty of first-degree murder. The man who pulled the trigger, however, was Leon Martinez. Police got to Martinez by way of grant money earmarked for cold cases, reports the Whittier Daily News.

A DNA test of pants found near the scene led them in 2010 to Martinez, who said Ghonim hired him and even reached over his wife's body to hand him payment. A friend of Martinez's relayed meeting a man days before Vicki's death who said he and his child's mother—a student at John Glenn High, as Vicki was—were having issues and planned to separate. In late January, the Daily News painted a picture of a confident defense, given that in exchange for testifying, Martinez will not serve life without parole for the murder, but instead 28 years to life. "This is a 20-year-old murder that comes down to the credibility of a convicted killer and an ex-wife who hates Mr. Ghonim ... and promised to send him to hell," said one of Ghonim's lawyers, noting that Ghonim's second wife talked to police. Ghonim could be handed life without parole at his Dec. 19 sentencing. (More cold cases stories.)

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