RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — A 19-year-old man was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2011 “thrill kill” murder of a man who was lured through a fake Facebook profile.
Manuel Edmundo Guzman Jr. was convicted of murdering 23-year-old Eddie Leal on May 30, 2011, at a park near Ivy Crest Drive in San Jacinto.
He created a fake Facebook profile using the persona of “Rebecca Santhiago” that included photos of an East Coast model in attempts to lure out young men, police said.
Leal was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds in the driver’s seat of a Toyota Corolla after the vehicle hit a parked car.
Because he was 17 at the time of the crime, Guzman was not eligible for the death penalty.
The case led the judge to refer to it as one of the most cruel he’d ever witnessed while sitting on the bench.
CBS2′s Crystal Cruz spoke to family members of the murdered man who told her they were stunned by the killer’s comments in court.
Those comments included Guzman saying he was possessed by demons. Guzman finally admitted in open court to killing Leal.
Leal’s family chose to remember their loved one and not the man who killed him.
The victim loved boxing so much, he opened a gym in his parent’s garage to teach neighborhood kids.
“He was very good. He loved people, he loved to help, he loved boxing. Everything he loved he was passionate about he tried to do,” Leal’s brother Gilbert.
The fact that his brother was killed for no apparent reason — the judge called it a “thrill kill” makes it harder for the Leal family to process.
“Just to kill? It just makes it harder for us to understand why someone would take him from us,” says Gilbert.
“He did it for excitement. To have fun. He didn’t know my cousin. He didn’t know anything about him. He didn’t know the type of person he was. He didn’t know who he was killing. So it hurts,” said Leal’s cousin Tania Cruz.