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California Briefing / Santa Ana

Property manager guilty of murder

March 03, 2009|Mike Anton

A man who worked as a Santa Ana apartment manager pleaded guilty Monday to murdering a property manager who discovered he was stealing rent money from tenants.

Douglas Wendel Mireles, 42, of Yorba Linda is expected to be sentenced to 28 years to life in prison for the 1994 killing.

At the time, investigators were unable to match a handgun owned by Mireles to the crime because the gun's barrel had been drilled out. In 2006, police made a match using new technology.

The victim, Philip Cousins, 44, who worked for a company that oversaw the complex, discovered that Mireles was pocketing rent money. He made Mireles pay it back, but let him continue working as the complex's manager.

A few years later, prosecutors said, Cousins met Mireles at the complex. Mireles led him to a storage room in an underground garage and shot him in the chest and head. His body was found in the trunk of his car.

-- Mike Anton

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