What to Know
- Iouri Mikhel and Juijus Kadamovas were convicted in 2007
- The men had conspired in 2001 and 2002 to kidnap people they believed to be wealthy
- The victims were lured to homes or businesses in Encino and Sherman Oaks
Death sentences for two men convicted of abducting and murdering five people in the San Fernando Valley and dumping their bodies in a reservoir near Yosemite National Park were upheld Wednesday by a federal appeals court.
"After extensive briefing and argument from the parties, and our own careful review, we affirm," wrote Circuit Judge Jay S. Bybee.
Attorneys for Iouri Mikhel and Juijus Kadamovas unsuccessfully argued the impositions of the death penalties were improper and the trial courts made legal errors, according to an opinion published by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal.
Top news of the day
"The evidence that Mikhel and Kadamovas did these things — and did them without concern for their victims' suffering — was detailed, comprehensive, and in a word, overwhelming," the court said in rejecting the appeal.
The men were convicted in 2007 after a five-month trial on a number of federal charges, including 'multiple counts of hostage taking resulting in death.' Federal prosecutors told jurors the men had conspired in 2001 and 2002 to kidnap people they believed to be wealthy in order to raid their bank accounts and extract ransom payments from relatives.
The victims were lured to homes or businesses in Encino and Sherman Oaks where they were injected with sedatives and were sometimes forced to make ransom calls.
Most were murdered by suffocation, with Mikhel and Kadamovas pulling plastic bags over the victims' heads, prosecutors said. In each case the victims' bodies were driven to the New Melones Reservoir and thrown off the Parrotts Ferry Bridge into the water.
Later, the men were caught plotting a sophisticated high-rise escape from the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles. Mikhel had managed to smuggle, "a veritable hardware store," into his cell, including hacksaw blades, wrenches, screwdrivers, fishing line, paint, work gloves, bolt cutters, and a camcorder.
The plan was foiled when guards were tipped off by another inmate.