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By Daily Mail reporter, Ryan Gorman, and Associated Press Reporter, 23 November 2013:: A Southern California man was found guilty Friday in the savage revenge slaughter and torching of his ex-girlfriend’s family after the teen dumped him over religious differences.
Iftekhar Murtaza, 29, stabbed, beat and slashed his ex-girlfriend’s father and sister to death, slit her mother’s throat and burned down the family’s Orange County home in May 2007 – and now he faces the death penalty.
Mr Murtaza was ‘upset’ after being dumped Shayona Dhanak, then 18-years-old, two months before brutally murdering her family because her parents threatened to stop paying her college tuition if she didn’t leave him.
The cold-blooded killer was found guilty of two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and one conspiracy count, but declined to convict on kidnapping and murder during a burglary charges.
The trial’s penalty phase begins December 2, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
‘We’re very pleased with the verdicts,’ prosecutor Howard Gundy said, adding he was ready to move to the next phase. He declined to comment any further.
Mr Murtaza’s attorney declined to comment after the trial.
Two of Murtaza’s friends were previously convicted of the killings. Vitaliy Krasnoperov was sentenced to life in prison, and Charles Murphy Jr. is scheduled to be sentenced in December.
Dhanak’s parents were practicing Hindus and told her Mr Murtaza and his Muslim family came from a line of ‘beggars and servants’.
From the outset of the trial, prosecutors claimed he planned the murder plot and paid a friend $30,000 to help him kill the teen’s parents so he could be with her.
Mr Murtaza said he went home after the break-up, took ecstasy and starting chatting with a friend online about how he wished Dhanak’s parents were dead.
‘I didn’t want to kill them,’ he told the court, according to Fox News. ‘It was just a figure of speech.’
‘I was frustrated, I was upset,’ he continued, ‘I just wished they would accept me.’
‘It’s almost like I am not human to them, based on the family that I was born into.’
Mr Murtaza said he repeated his wish that the Dhanaks would die or disappear to dozens of friends out of his sense of frustration and despair and that his relationship would be fine if not for them.
The prosecution contended Dhanak wanted to end the relationship with the disturbed man because he had become controlling and violent.
Leela Dhanak broke down on the stand as she talked about still hearing her spouse’s screams of terror in her sleep years later.
Mrs Dhanak told the Orange County courtroom that she was attacked when she came home in May 2007 and fell unconscious.
She was found on the front lawn of a neighbors property by police, who had responded to a fire at Mrs Dhanak’s home.
The woman woke up from a coma three weeks later to discover the family’s Anaheim Hills mansion had been burned, and her husband, 56-year-old Jaypraykash Dhanak, and eldest daughter, Karishma Dhanak, 20, killed.
Last month, a pathologist testified that Karishma Dhanak was alive when her throat was slit and her body was doused with gasoline and set on fire.
Autopsy results showed Jayprakash Dhanak suffered 29 stab wounds to his body. He also had his skull fractured, resulting in a fatal brain injury.
Their bodies had been found in a park in Irvine about two miles from the University of California dorn where Shayona Danak lived.
The scorned ex-boyfriend was interviewed by police within the days of the horrifying plot and was soon arrested at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with a ticket to his native Bangladesh and more than $11,000 stashed in his luggage.
During her testimony, Mrs Dhanak admitted she didn’t particularly like Mr Murtaza, but had her daughter truly loved him, she would have supported the young couple.
‘She was too young to fall in love with any guys,’ she told the court.
In June 2011, Mr Murtaza married 20-year-old suspected murderer Marissa Star Bilotti in a jailhouse ceremony after exchanging letters for five months.
Ms Bilotti is charged with first-degree murder, burglary, and robbery.
She faces 32 years to life in prison for helping a friend, Derek Christopher Adams, murder a man in 2010.
On the same story: Man takes stand in trial for attack on ex’s family: Huff Post.
Man on trial in killing ex-girlfriend’s relatives: San Jose Mercury News.