LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A judge rejected a bid Tuesday by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office to dismiss special circumstance allegations that could result in a life prison term without the possibility of parole for a woman charged, with her reported lover, in the stabbing death of her husband, a prominent hairdresser, at his Woodland Hills home four years ago.
Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen’s decision in the case of Monica Sementilli, 49, and Robert Louis Baker, 58, marks the latest in a series of cases in which judges have rebuffed attempts by the District Attorney’s Office to dismiss sentencing enhancements under a directive from new District Attorney George Gascon, who has said there is “ample evidence sentencing enhancements do not necessarily make us any safer.”READ MORE: Three Rushed To Trauma Centers From Five-Vehicle Crash In Costa Mesa
The defendants are awaiting trial on murder and conspiracy charges stemming from the Jan. 23, 2017, killing of the 49-year-old Canadian-born stylist, who was found dead in a pool of blood in an outdoor patio area at his home in the 5000 block of Queen Victoria Road.
The conspiracy charge lays out details of the prosecution’s case against the two, with an indictment handed up in August 2017 alleging that the pair agreed to kill her husband and planned to obtain her husband’s life insurance proceeds after the killing.
The two “communicated via cell phones and encrypted communication applications regarding their plan to kill victim Fabio Sementilli” and Baker “solicited an unknown co-conspirator to assist him in killing victim Fabio Sementilli,” according to the indictment.
The indictment alleges that Monica Sementilli forwarded an email to Baker about how to access her home video surveillance system, notified him that her husband would be alone on the afternoon of Jan. 23 and then left to go shopping to establish an alibi for the time of the killing.
Monica Sementilli waited for her youngest daughter to arrive home to find her father’s body before returning to their home, and subsequently called a Los Angeles Police Department detective several times to inquire why her husband’s life insurance policy proceeds were being withheld, according to the indictment.READ MORE: Hot, Dry And Windy: Critical Fire Weather Coming To Southland
The victim was an established hairdresser who served as vice president of education for Wella, the salon professional division of Procter & Gamble, according to Salon Tuesday magazine.
In court papers filed by attorney Robin Sax representing victim Fabio Sementilli’s family, his son and two of his sisters were among those who called on the judge to keep in place the special circumstance allegations of murder for financial gain and murder while lying in wait.
“Our family will never get closure like this. Gascon’s special directive must be suspended for this case,” wrote Luigi Sementilli, the victim’s son from a prior marriage. “It is truly disturbing to know that such a blanket directive can come into effect without any reference to the circumstances of each case. This does not encourage an arena for justice.”
One of his sisters, Loretta Picillo, wrote that her family is “outraged” at Gascon’s policies, which she said “protect criminals instead of defending victims,” while Mirella Sementilli Rota urged the judge not to take away her brother’s “rights and dignity by new reform policies that don’t serve the innocent but lessen the severity of the crime committed.”
Investigators believe Baker and Monica Sementilli had been having an affair for about a year and a half, and she stood to gain a sizeable benefit — around $1.6 million — from a life insurance policy on her husband.
Shortly after the two were charged, Sementilli’s attorney told reporters, “My client adamantly denies any involvement whatsoever in the murder of her husband, and we are hopeful that when all the facts come out she will be totally exonerated.”MORE NEWS: Coronavirus Hospitalizations Continue To Rise In Los Angeles County
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)