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Man Guilty of Killing 1 Woman, Assaulting Another

May 12, 2006|Jonathan Abrams | Times Staff Writer

A Van Nuys man was convicted Thursday of murdering one woman, then sexually assaulting another after forcing her to help him get rid of the body.

Paul Alan Ott, 38, was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Edith I. Mejia, 42, of Los Angeles in January 2004. He faces possible life imprisonment when he is sentenced June 27 by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barry A. Taylor.

Prosecutors allege that Ott, who worked as a Hollywood stagehand lighting and striking sets, was in a drug-induced rampage when he killed Mejia, a casual friend. Ott later drove near the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart station and picked up a second woman, claiming he needed help finding his children, authorities said.

He took this woman to his Van Nuys apartment and made her help load Mejia's body into his Ford Explorer, police said. He then forced her to orally copulate him and left her bound and gagged, authorities said. The Times generally does not identify sexual assault victims.

The woman managed to escape and alert neighbors when Ott went to a liquor store to buy alcohol. Mejia's body was found naked, bludgeoned and stabbed in the Explorer in Ott's apartment parking spot.

Ott said he acted in self-defense after Mejia lunged at him.

"Nobody bought that for a moment," said jury forewoman Diane Lipson, 42. "She had two lethal injuries. She could have died from either one of them."

Sandra Martinez, Mejia's sister, said the conviction brought some vindication but that Mejia's 10 children still struggle with the loss. "Hopefully, he won't ever come back, because my sister isn't coming back," she said.

"We are all happy that he's going to be off the streets," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Shellie L. Samuels.

Ott was acquitted on five other counts of sexual assault: two involving the second woman and three involving a third woman who came forward after hearing of the case.

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