Arrest: Convicted felon pending trial for Granada Hills double homicide and other charges
Reader's contacting the Homicide Report have asked for an update on a double slaying that occurred more than three years ago in Granada Hills.
On the evening of Jan. 23, 2007, Renee Spata, an 18-year-old Latina, and Marvin Tobar, a 21-year-old Latino, had just finished a date when they arrived at a home in the 10000 block of North Danube Avenue in Granada Hills, said LAPD Mission Det. Efren Gutierrez, who handled the investigation.
The semi-vacant residence was being rented by Tobar's friends, who were in the midst of moving out, Gutierrez said. During the transition, they were staying with Tobar at his place in North Hollywood. Tobar and Spata went to the Granada Hills home to spend some time alone, Gutierrez said.
At some point during the night, while Spata and Tobar were inside, Robert Valdez, a 29-year-old Latino, broke into the home.
According to police, Valdez, a documented gang member, then shot Spata and Tobar and set the home on fire.
A patrol officer driving by saw smoke coming from the house and alerted the Fire Department. As firefighters extinguished the flames, they discovered two bodies in one of the rooms.
Authorities were told by a friend of Tobar's that the couple had been in the home that night, Gutierrez said, however the bodies were so badly burned that the coroner's office had to identify them through dental records.
More than two months after the blaze, authorities arrested Valdez.
According to the felony complaint provided by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, Valdez has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of arson of an inhabited structure or property in connection with Spata and Tobar’s deaths.
In addition to murder, Valdez faces 21 other charges, including: two counts of attempted murder and two counts of assault with a firearm for an incident that took place Jan. 7, 2007; one count of second-degree robbery and one count of unlawful driving or taking of a vehicle for an incident that took place Feb. 15, 2007; one count of attempted carjacking, one count of second-degree robbery, two counts of assault with a firearm and two counts of kidnapping for carjacking for an incident that took place March 27, 2007; one count of second-degree robbery, two counts of assault with a firearm on a peace officer, one count of evading an officer, one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon with three priors and one count of possession of body armor for an incident that took place March 30, 2007; and three counts of false imprisonment by violence for an incident that took place March 31, 2007.
Valdez's prior convictions include assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer in 1994, robbery in 1995, selling and transportation of a controlled substance in 1996, possession of a controlled substance in 1997, assault with intent to commit mayhem, rape, sodomy, oral copulation or other sexual assault in 1999 and selling ammunition to a person under the age of 21 in 2003.
Valdez was on parole when he killed Spata and Tobar.
He is being held without bail at the Twin Towers Jail in downtown. His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 24 in L.A. County Superior Court.
-- Sarah Ardalani
Top photo: (Left) Mario Tobar and Renee Spata, Credit: DMV, Bottom photo: Robert Valdez, Credit: LAPD