A man was sentenced to life in state prison Friday without the possibility of parole for fatally stabbing a Cal State Northridge student who had placed an online advertisement about a car he was trying to sell, and then dumping the victim’s body in the Coachella Valley, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Agustin Rosendo Fernandez, 30, of Long Beach, was convicted of first-degree murder on June 9 for the stabbing death of 23-year-old Abdullah Abdullatif Alkadi of Saudi Arabia, whose body was discovered along a freeway in Palm Desert in 2014.
The jury also found the special circumstances of murder to be true, which alleged that the engineering student was murdered during the commission of a robbery and carjacking, along with an allegation that Fernandez used a knife as a deadly weapon.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes with the Major Crimes Division, the LA County District Attorney's Office noted.
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At the sentencing hearing in San Fernando, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Hayden Zacky said Fernandez killed an innocent young student in a "planned and premeditated" attack, then "callously" disposed of the body. His dumping of Alkadi's body "shows a cold, callous and malicious heart," Zacky said.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office decided against seeking the death penalty against Fernandez.
Alkadi disappeared Sept. 17, 2014, from his home near the college campus. His body was found about a month later along Interstate 10 east of Cook Street, about 40 miles east of the Beaumont location where Alkadi's cell phone had last been used just before being deactivated, authorities said.
Alkadi listed his 2011 Audi A5 convertible for sale in an online advertisement for $36,500, and he agreed to sell the car to Fernandez for $35,000 after an initial meeting with him, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes.
"When the defendant went to pick up the Audi he killed Alkadi so he could keep both the Audi and the money," the prosecutor wrote. "He was eventually arrested and confessed to the homicide."
The car was found parked at Fernandez' apartment in the 6800 block of Long Beach Boulevard, authorities said. He has remained in jail since his arrest in October 2014.
The case was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division, according to the LA County District Attorney's Office.
Shortly after Fernandez was taken into custody, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck cautioned the public to take precautions when placing or responding to online ads.
"The investigation determined that Agustin Fernandez killed Mr. Alkadi in an attempt to keep both the Audi and the purchase price," the police chief said. "The message for the public here is that you have to beware when using online Internet sites to sell anything. Craigslist, eBay, all the other opportunities for sales are also opportunities to let unwanted people into your lives."