Barbara Jean Thornton, a 48-year-old former Brentwood resident, was arraigned Wednesday in West Los Angeles Municipal Court on charges of murdering 51-year-old Masakatsu Fujitani, according to the Los Angeles Police Department and the district attorney's office.
Pacific Division Detective Don Ravens said that Fujitani was found shot to death last Dec. 22 in the garage of his home at 3029 Barry Ave., Mar Vista. Ravens said Thornton had been living with Fujitani and the couple were planning to marry.
Thornton is charged with murder for financial gain. If convicted, she could receive the death penalty. Ravens said that police are seeking assistance in finding the murder weapon, a .38-caliber automatic handgun.
Fujitani, who had a gardening business and was well known in the Westside Japanese-American community, is survived by a 26-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son, police said.