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Former LAPD Detective Found Guilty Of 1st Degree Murder

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — An eight woman, four man jury found a former LAPD detective guilty Thursday of first degree murder in the death of her ex-boyfriend’s wife.

The jury found Stephanie Lazarus guilty in the 1986 murder of 29-year-old nursing supervisor Sherri Rasmussen. Rasmussen was shot to death in a Van Nuys condo she shared with her husband, John Ruetten.

(credit: CBS)The couple had been married for three months before Rasmussen was murdered in a jealous rage, prosecutors said.

Investigators originally thought Rasmussen had been murdered in a botched burglary, but DNA from a bite wound and broken fingernails at the crime scene linked Lazarus to the murder 23 years later, prosecutors said.

Lazarus, a former art-theft detective, had been held on $10 million bail since her arrest in 2009.

The jury began deliberating Tuesday afternoon following closing arguments in the three-week long case. It took approximately eight hours of deliberation over a three-day period to reach their verdict.

“We appreciate the jury’s service and hope that Sherri Rasmussen’s family can find closure in knowing that Stephanie Lazarus will face justice for Ms. Rasmussen’s murder. Lazarus’ crimes are deeply disturbing, but it is important to remind the public that the actions of one individual should not tarnish its trust and respect for the more than 9,900 dedicated police officers who serve and protect the community every day,” the Los Angeles Police Protective League said in regards to the verdict.

Lazarus, 51, will be sentenced on May 4.

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