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Gang Member Gets Life in Prison in Kidnapping, Rape and Slaying

February 07, 2004|From a Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles gang member was sentenced Friday to life in prison for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 23-year-old Glendale woman.

Jason Thompson, 26, avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty to the charges.

Roberta Louise Happe, a graduate of Crescenta Valley High School and USC, was kidnapped as she walked to her car in a Wilshire Boulevard garage after work on Feb. 22, 2001.

Bank surveillance photos showed Happe and Thompson at an ATM less than an hour later, where he forced her to withdraw $400.

Later that night, her body was found in a parking lot at Culver City Park.

Thompson fled to Michigan after the slaying but was arrested a week later.

He also pleaded guilty to six other counts, including carjacking and ATM robbery.

Judge Steven Van Sicklen sentenced Thompson to life without parole, and added three consecutive life terms plus 18 years and four months.

"He will not see the light of freedom again," Van Sicklen told the packed Airport Branch courtroom.

Family members and friends of Happe spoke at length during the emotional sentencing hearing. Thompson showed no emotion and did not look at the speakers.

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