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Fourth man charged in fatal Downey home invasion robbery

A fourth person was charged last week with killing a Downey real estate agent in a home invasion robbery in January, authorities said.

Michael Harrod, a 24-year-old from Anaheim, pleaded not guilty Feb. 2 to murder, home invasion robbery and first-degree burglary with the person present, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. Harrod is a white man, according to online sheriff's department records.

Three other men have also been charged in the crime.

Harrod, who is related to a longtime friend of the victim, Jim Rudometkin, 59, had known him “for some period of time,” said Downey Police Sgt. Kevin McCaster.

Harrod was aware that Rudometkin was in the process of moving from his childhood home into an apartment, McCaster said.

“They believed him to be of some wealth, and possibly an easy target since he wouldn’t be there,” McCaster said.

Investigators believe Harrod helped plan the break-in at Rudometkin’s home, and drove the other three men there on Jan. 17,  McCaster said.

When the men arrived at the home and knocked on the door, they heard a television and Rudometkin eventually answered at the side door, McCaster said.

A neighbor saw the suspects push Rudometkin inside the home and called police, McCaster said. When officers arrived, the three men ran out the back door of the home and jumped over a fence. Investigators found Rudometkin inside, unresponsive. He had been tied up and beaten, and the cause of death was listed as blunt-force trauma and heart disease.

Two of the suspects, Henry Willie Sao, 28, of Long Beach, and Paul Darvais Misikei, 18, of Anaheim, were arrested shortly after police arrived. Investigators arrested 17-year-old Sakaopo Atanasio Folau of Anaheim on Jan. 19.

All three are charged with capital murder, home invasion robbery and first-degree burglary with a person present.

Misikei and Sao could face the death penalty if convicted.  Folau, who has been charged as an adult, is ineligible for execution because of his age. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Prosecutors have not yet said if they will pursue the death penalty in the case.

The four are due back in court Feb. 10 in Department J of the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Norwalk Court.  

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