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Teller Machine Robberies : 2 Get Life Terms in Northridge Slaying

September 09, 1989|GABE FUENTES | Times Staff Writer

A judge sentenced two men to life in prison Friday for killing a Canoga Park man they tried to rob at an automatic teller machine.

Elisaia Reupena, 27, of Sherman Oaks and Steven B. Rice, 19, of Granada Hills pleaded guilty last month to the March 21 murder and to charges of robbery and kidnaping in two other crimes at similar machines that same month.

Reupena and Rice pleaded guilty in exchange for prosecutors agreeing not to seek the death penalty. A murder charge stemming from the March 21 shooting is pending against a third defendant, Marty Mares, 20, of Granada Hills.

Earlier this year, a 17-year-old youth was sent to the California Youth Authority after he admitted playing a role in the shooting and the two other automatic teller crimes. He can be held in Youth Authority custody until he is 25.

Authorities said Reupena, Rice, Mares and the teen-ager participated in the robbery and killing of Aslam Hasham, 29, of Canoga Park after Hasham used a Coast Savings teller machine at Tampa Avenue and Nordhoff Street.

Reupena shot Hasham as the victim struggled with his attackers. Reupena was shot in the leg during the struggle, and his arrest in a Torrance hospital led to the other three defendants, police said.

When Reupena pleaded guilty last month in San Fernando Municipal Court, he said in court that the gun accidentally discharged twice as he wrestled with the victim.

Under the sentences meted out by San Fernando Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen, Reupena and Rice can not be paroled for at least 30 years, Deputy Dist. Atty. Rosalie L. Morton said.

In the other two automatic teller machine crimes to which Rice, Reupena and the teen-ager admitted, which occurred March 8 and 20, one man was robbed at one machine and another was kidnaped--taken to a second machine when the first one was empty, according to court documents.

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