LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A 23-year-old man who threw a chair at a Los Angeles police detective in court was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the ambush robbery-killing of a man who ran a gold-buying business.

Jurors deliberated less than a half-day Feb. 4 before convicting Jesus Mendez of first-degree murder for the April 19, 2012 killing of Jamie Sharif Mohammad Abuawad in Vermont Knolls. The jury also found true a special circumstance of murder during the commission of a robbery and convicted Mendez of a second-degree robbery charge involving the 27-year-old victim.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald H. Rose called the evidence of Mendez’s guilt “overwhelming” and said he had shown absolutely no remorse” while confessing to police what he had done.

On Jan. 29, Mendez – who was in street clothes and was not handcuffed – picked up a chair in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom and threw it at LAPD Detective Myra Kellum, who had to be taken to a hospital for treatment. The chair also struck and injured Deputy District Attorney Hilary Williams.

The judge refused to declare a mistrial the following day, noting that jurors were not in the courtroom during the incident. He did, however, order Mendez to be secured to a chair, handcuffed and secured with a restraining belt, which could not be seen by jurors, for the rest of the trial.

Williams told the judge she believed the chair-throwing episode was a reaction to testimony that had been presented in court.

The judge said after imposing the life prison sentence that he would recommend that Mendez be housed in a high-security facility in light of his actions on the street and in the courtroom.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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