NORWALK (CBSLA) – A gang member and parolee who killed a man in East Los Angeles in 2017, then opened fire on two Whittier police officers, killing one and wounding the other, was convicted Wednesday of murder and other counts.
Jurors deliberated for less than two hours Tuesday before reaching their verdict in the trial of 30-year-old Michael Christopher Mejia. The verdict was read Wednesday morning, with the panel convicting Mejia of two counts of first-degree murder and one count each of attempted murder, carjacking and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Jurors also found true special circumstance allegations of murder of a peace officer in the performance of his duties, murder for the purpose of avoiding arrest and multiple murders. Jurors also found true gang and gun allegations.
He is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced Dec. 1.
Mejia was convicted for the Feb. 20, 2017, killings of Keith Boyer, a 53-year-old Whittier police officer who was the first officer in the city killed in the line of duty in 37 years, and 47-year-old Roy Torres. Mejia told authorities after his arrest that Torres was his cousin, but Torres’ relatives insisted Wednesday that he was not related to Mejia.
The attempted murder count involved Whittier police Officer Patrick Hazell, who was shot in the abdomen.
Prosecutors say Mejica killed Torres, stole his car, crashed it and then killed officer Keith Boyer when he responded to the call. Boyer was a 27-year veteran of the Whittier force.
Prosecutors told the jury Boyer and Hazell were responding to a three-vehicle traffic collision near Colima Road and Mar Vista Street in which Mejia had been involved, and that the two had no idea that those would be “the last moments” of Boyer’s life.
Over the objection of the two prosecutors in the trial, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office dropped its bid to seek the death penalty against Mejia in February. The reversal came just over two months after L.A. County District Attorney George Gascon was sworn into office.
Prior to the killing, Mejia was released from the super-maximum Pelican Bay State Prison in April 2016 and placed on probation with county supervision, instead of parole with state supervision, under a reform measure known as Assembly Bill 109 that was enacted by state legislators in 2011.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)