LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A former car salesman was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years to life in prison for murdering two women he had dated, including one who was found dumped and dismembered in Mexico.
Aurangzeb “Simon” Manjira, 55, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty Dec. 2 to first-degree murder in the death of Esperanza “Espy” Torio and second-degree murder in the killing of Maria Theresa Santos.
Torio’s dismembered remains were found dumped in Playas De Rosarito, Mexico, shortly after her sister reported the 39-year-iold single mother of two teenage boys missing in August 1996.
The identity of the remains was not known until 2009, when Mexican authorities working with U.S. law enforcement provided DNA samples.
Authorities were unable to determine how Torio had been killed.
Glendale police detectives re-opened their investigation into Torio’s disappearance and discovered that Manjra had dated Santos, who was last seen alive in October 2004 before the Los Angeles Police Department received a report that the 44-year-old mother of two was missing.
Authorities have not found Santos’ remains.
Just before Manjra was sentenced, Torio’s sister, Edna Magpayo, told the defendant, “There’s a space in our hearts that will never be filled … You have the rest of your life to think about it and how it affected two families.”
Magpayo asked Manjra to look at her as she spoke, but defense attorney John Alan said his client preferred to look forward and would carefully listen to what she said.
Deputy District Attorney Habib A. Balian told the judge that the majority of Santos’ family lives in the Philippines and could not be at the sentencing. He said what Manjra took from the woman’s two young children was “devastating, unimaginable and could never be replaced.”
Manjra was arrested in May 2010 and remains jailed.
He could have faced life in prison without the possibility of parole had he gone to trial and been convicted of the murders.
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