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Los Angeles women sentenced to life in prison for killing liquor store clerk in North Hollywood three years ago

Two Los Angeles women were recently sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing a liquor store clerk in North Hollywood during an attempted robbery three years ago.

Rosa Manuela Barrientos, 26, and Maria Michelle Inzunza, 28, were sentenced Aug. 23 for killing Mohammad Kalam, a 61-year-old man from Bangladesh.

A jury in August 2018  found both Barrientos and Inzunza guilty of one count of murder with the special circumstance allegation that the killing was committed during a robbery and one count of attempted second-degree robbery, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. 

Kalam was shot in the head Sept. 24, 2016, while working at the A&D Liquor Mart in the 12600 block of Sherman Way when he refused to give two assailants money, police said.

Surveillance footage reviewed by LAPD investigators showed that Inzunza slid a demand note to Kalam that threatened him to hand over money or they'd kill him.

Kalam, a father, slid the note back to them.

There was some unknown dialogue between the defendant and the victim, then Barrientos took the gun from her purse and shot Kalam in the head once, court records show.

Inzunza tried to open the register but was unsuccessful. Both fled the location empty-handed.

Hours before the shooting, a longtime friend of the women testified in court that she, her boyfriend and the two defendants drove around North Hollywood in her Hyundai Sonata looking for alcohol, according to trial transcripts. 

The woman testified that Barrientos and Inzunza, who were partners, finished drinking a bottle of vodka and then decided to buy more at a liquor store.

Inzunza, who has been convicted of possessing controlled substances, initially told officers she drank two shots of vodka that night but denied smoking any narcotics or being drunk, according to a probation report filed in court.

The woman testified that Barrientos and Inzunza previously entered a few liquor stores but didn’t buy anything because they had issues with their credit card. 

About an hour and a half later, the group returned to the same A&D Liquor Mart where they initially purchased a bottle of vodka, court documents show.

The woman said that Barrientos and Inzunza told her to park outside of the store’s lot. 

When Barrientos and Inzunza ran back to the car, the woman testified that “Maria had told me her girlfriend got in a fight with the clerk or whatever. I didn't really pay much attention to it."

The woman and her boyfriend denied knowing about the murder. 

Barrientos and Inzunza had a history of run-ins with police.

Barrientos was on formal probation for second-degree robbery at the time of the incident, according to the probation report. That was later terminated. 

Inzunza, who has a prison gang classification, had a prior conviction for possession of a controlled substance, according to the report.

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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