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Killer who shot L.A. man for $300 sentenced to life in prison

Speaking through an Arabic interpreter, Mohammed Abu Awad took the opportunity Tuesday morning in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom to address the killer of his 27-year-old son.

“You took someone’s life for $300,” he told Jesus Mendez, 23. “You’re trash.”

Mendez was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the 2012 murder and robbery of Jaime Sharif Abu Awad, a businessman and father of two.  

Judge Ronald H. Rose said that Mendez,  a gang member, lacked any remorse throughout the proceedings.

During the trial, Mendez hurled a chair about 15 feet at an L.A. police detective and the prosecutor. The blow knocked down the detective. The jury was not present.

When the verdict was read, Rose said that Mendez laughed. Mendez was linked to the crime through phone records and also evidence left behind. He also confessed to the crime twice, Rose said during a brief statement.

On April 19, 2012, Mendez called Jaime Sharif Abu Awad four times. The two then met in the 800 block of West 81st Street in Vermont Knolls about 10 minutes before the killing. Mendez approached Abu Awad’s vehicle, opened the passenger-side door, held out a gun and demanded money.

Mendez shot Abu Awad three times, then fled with two cellphones and $300. Mendez ended up dropping the stolen phones in a nearby alley. A shoe print on the phone matched Mendez’s.

Two of Abu Awad’s brothers also spoke at the sentencing hearing, at which Mendez, in an orange jumpsuit, showed no emotion. 

“My brother was a very good man.… We lost something very valuable,” said Belal Mohammed Abu Awad. “Don’t think you’ve won.” 

Deputy Dist. Atty. Hilary Williams, who prosecuted the case, said she met the family in 2012, and since then, they’ve wanted the opportunity to address Mendez. 

“A lot of them are too emotional to speak,” she said.

 Rose recommended that Mendez be held in a maximum-security facility.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz

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