A teenage ranch hand who cared for horses at the rural home of Jean Schwartz, a 73-year-old woman found beaten and strangled last year, has been convicted of her sexual assault and murder.
Antonio Rodriguez, who was 18 at the time of Schwartz's slaying in September 1997, was found guilty Friday in Santa Monica Superior Court of killing his employer while committing rape with a foreign object. Schwartz's bloodied, nearly naked body was dumped along a remote road near her Monte Vista Drive home.
The killing of Schwartz, a longtime Topanga resident who had moved to the area with her husband in 1970, shocked the area's tight-knit community. Rodriguez was not arrested until more than three months after the killing, when forensic tests detected Schwartz's blood in the bed of his pickup truck, officials said.
Later, a drop of blood found on the victim's bed was linked to Rodriguez through DNA testing. Prosecutor Barbara Block said the DNA, which matched Rodriguez's genetic profile, could have come from just one in 3.7 billion people.