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Ruben Victor Zermeno, 56

Ruben Victor Zermeno, a 56-year-old Latino, was killed Wednesday, June 18, in the 13900 block of Valley Boulevard in Avocado Heights, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records.

Workers in the area found Zermeno’s body near a trash bin in a driveway shortly before 6 a.m. and called authorities, said Det. Karen Shonka with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Zermeno was pronounced dead at 5:56 a.m., said Ed Winter, a spokesman with the coroner’s office. An autopsy showed that Zermeno died of blunt force trauma, Winter said.

A witness linked Marco Antonio Villanueva, a 36-year-old Latino, to the beating, and he was arrested on suspicion of murder the same day. Zermeno and Villanueva were transients in the area who had known each other for a couple days, Shonka said.

“There was some type of argument that they got involved in, and the suspect said God told him to do it,” she said.

Villanueva has pleaded not guilty to one count of murder, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors said that Zermeno had suffered major trauma to his head and face.

Villanueva is due in court July 23. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz

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