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Transient accused of killing older La Verne couple pleads not guilty

A transient accused of bludgeoning an older La Verne couple to death and stealing the wife’s cellphone pleaded not guilty to murder charges on Tuesday, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said.

Luke Fabela, 24, is charged in the deaths of Shirley Isom, 74, and Armie “Troy” Isom, 89, the owners of a construction business who were found in their hillside estate on Roughrider Road on Dec. 26, 2014.

Fabela, arraigned Tuesday in a Pomona courthouse, has been charged with two counts of murder with the special circumstance of multiple murders in the commission of a robbery; one count of second-degree robbery; and one count of first-degree residential burglary.

In a February statement, prosecutors said the couple were killed “for a cellphone.” Nothing had been removed from the 80-acre property except Shirley Isom’s phone, they said.

Shirley Isom, who suffered stab wounds and blunt force trauma, died at the scene of what authorities called an extremely bloody attack. Her husband was taken to a hospital, where he died later that day.

Authorities said a groundskeeper called police after discovering the couple inside their home. Neighbors told investigators they saw a man in a hoodie walking away from the house shortly before then, carrying a large backpack.

DNA evidence from a jailhouse swab led investigators to Fabela, who had served time in prison and was arrested on suspicion of vehicle threat in San Bernardino a few weeks after the slayings.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives said last year that DNA had linked Fabela to the case and that he was already in custody in prison after pleading guilty to the vehicle theft.

Authorities said Fabela, who has a lengthy criminal record, had no fixed residence, having lived with relatives and acquaintances in Claremont, Pomona, Montclair, La Verne, San Bernardino and elsewhere.

Fabela is expected to appear in court again Oct. 18, the district attorney’s office said.

Photo: Luke Mathew Fabela is shown in an inmate photo dated Oct. 12, 2015. Credit: KTLA via California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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