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SANTA ANA (AP) — A Southern California man convicted of the murders of his ex-girlfriend’s sister and father has told jurors in his trial’s penalty phase that he did not kill the victims and ran like a coward from the crime scene.

The Orange County Register reports that 29-year-old Iftekhar Murtaza testified Tuesday that other men assaulted the family of his ex-girlfriend, Shayona Dhanak, for money while he panicked and fled.

Murtaza also apologized to his parents and told Dhanak’s mother that he hopes she will realize the truth.

Jurors convicted Murtaza of killing Dhanak’s father and sister and assaulting her mother in a fiery attack on their home in 2007. Prosecutors say Murtaza killed the family members to try to win back Dhanak after she ended the relationship, citing religious differences.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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