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Transient sentenced to two life terms in killings of 27-year-old woman and 89-year-old man

A transient was sentenced today to two consecutive life terms in state prison without possibility of parole for a double killing at a Culver City home in 2011, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Zachariah Timothy Lehnen, 35, was convicted Nov. 24, 2015, of two counts of first-degree murder for killing Lucien Bergez, 89, and Erica Escobar, 27. 


For the Record:

Jan. 11, 4:45 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said that Zachariah Timothy Lehnen was convicted Nov. 4, 2015. He was convicted Nov. 24, 2015. 


Jurors also found to be true that Lehnen committed multiple murders and that he used a knife.

Prosecutors said Lehnen worked for Bergez for a year as a handyman around his home.

On May 3, 2011, Culver City police were called to Bergez’s home about 10 a.m. after a housekeeper discovered the bodies. Lehnen was arrested two days later. He later confessed to a jail informant, according to the prosecutor in the case.

Sometime before the killings, Lehnen met Escobar outside her apartment complex in Culver City and persuaded her to go with him to Bergez’s home, prosecutors said.

The three then went to a nearby convenience store. Lehnen had persuaded Bergez, who had dementia, to give him some money.

When they returned to Bergez's home, Lehnen tried to have sex with Escobar, but she turned him down. He beat her and then Bergez when he tried to interfere, prosecutors said.

Lehnen stomped on both of their heads, stabbed Bergez in the eye and cut Escobar under her eyes, according to evidence presented in court.

Prosecutors said that before the killings, Lehnen had been released from prison on non-revocable parole for drug charges.

Contact the Homicide Report. And follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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