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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Man charged in severed head case

Published 11/03/2014 | 01:32

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A murder victim's head was found by dog walkers near the famous Hollywood sign

Prosecutors have charged a man with murdering his live-in boyfriend whose severed head was found by dog walkers near the Hollywood sign.

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Police announced the arrest of Gabriel Campos-Martinez, 38, on suspicion of killing Hervey Coronado Medellin, 66, of Los Angeles.

Campos-Martinez was arrested in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday with the help of local authorities and was being held on a million dollars (£600,000) bail pending an extradition hearing.

Campos-Martinez was charged with one felony count of murder with malice aforethought in the killing of Mr Medellin, who had been dating Campos-Martinez and was living with him at the time of his disappearance, deputy district attorney Bobby Grace said.

A felony complaint alleges Mr Medellin was killed on or around December 27, 2011. A coroner's report found that he died of asphyxiation and ruled it a homicide.

Two women discovered Mr Medellin's head while walking dogs on a trail in Griffith Park on January 17, 2012. One of the dogs, which was off its leash, had started to play with a plastic bag. When the dog shook the bag, the head fell out.

More than 120 police officers, firefighters and Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies took part in a two-day search of seven acres of the park after the head was discovered. A cadaver dog helped investigators find more body parts, including hands and feet, near the same area.

Campos-Martinez had filed a missing persons report at Hollywood station the day before the gruesome discovery.

Mr Medellin was a retired Mexicana Airlines ticket counter worker who had been living on a pension when he disappeared. His close friends had grown concerned after being unable to reach him for days and requested Los Angeles police conduct a welfare check at his apartment. After officers stopped by on January 16, 2012, Campos-Martinez made the missing persons report, Mr Grace said.

The two men met in March 2011 and moved into an apartment together roughly six months before Mr Medellin went missing, Mr Grace said.

Campos-Martinez moved to San Antonio later in 2012 to work for a catering company but remained in touch with detectives investigating the case, Mr Grace said.

Campos-Martinez's inconsistent comments and suspicious statements turned the investigation's focus onto him.

"The suspect had the most information and the last contact with the victim," Mr Grace said. "So the investigation centred on him."

If convicted, Campos-Martinez faces 25 years to life in prison.

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