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Man who murdered elderly La Verne couple sentenced to life in prison

A transient who killed a La Verne couple was sentenced in September to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

In May, jurors found Luke Fabela, 27, guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the killings of Shirley and Troy Isom at their 80-acre home in 2014.

On Dec. 26, a groundskeeper on the Isoms' hilltop estate found the body of Shirley Isom, 74, around 1:30 p.m. lying face up in a pool of blood in her driveway. 

The groundskeeper said he last saw Shirley Isom alive at 10:30 a.m. Her body was partially clothed with stab wounds in the right buttock. Her neck was slit from ear to ear, and she had cuts to her head, neck and arms.

Emergency medical responders declared Shirley Isom dead at the scene, and coroner’s records show she died of sharp and blunt force injuries.

Inside the home, emergency medical responders found her husband, Armie “Troy” Isom, 89, lying unconscious. He was bleeding from a head injury and had multiple skull fractures and several gaping wounds to the left side of his head. Troy Isom died at a hospital.

Authorities determined that a violent and prolonged struggle between Shirley Isom and her attacker started inside the house and continued into the driveway.

Bloodstains in and outside the woman's Lexus suggested that she tried to escape or that her attacker tried to load her body into the trunk, according to court records.

The only thing taken from the estate was a cellphone, prosecutors said.

Several neighbors told police they had seen a man matching Fabela’s description walking to and from the couple's house prior to the attack.

Two weeks after the killing, sheriff’s investigators released a sketch of a man they labeled a suspect.

Investigators linked Fabela to the crimes through a jailhouse swab of DNA, which matched the DNA found under a broken piece of Shirley Isom’s acrylic nails. DNA was also found on her right hip and inside the trunk lid of her Lexus.

Fabela had served state prison time and had been arrested on suspicion of vehicle theft in San Bernardino less than a month after the slayings.

The Isoms didn’t know Fabela, but his mother was the live-in caretaker for the ex-wife of the Isoms’ neighbor.

Fabela was charged with the murders in February 2016.

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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