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Iraq veteran is killed while installing cable TV

The former Marine, who survived three overseas tours, is fatally beaten with a hammer in Victorville in what authorities say was an unprovoked attack.

November 11, 2009|Nicole Santa Cruz and Richard Winton

As a Marine, Trevor Neiman survived three tours of duty in Iraq, where he patrolled the deadly streets of Fallouja and lost some of his best friends.

A knife attack at his Phelan home in May left the muscular man with a punctured lung, broken ribs and a ghastly head wound.

But that didn't stop him from following in his father's footsteps and becoming a cable TV installer. On Monday, Neiman, 25, went to a Victorville home. While he was inside, a man grabbed a hammer and fatally beat him.

"There was no exchange of words. There was nothing that occurred before the unprovoked attack," said Jody Miller, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. Paramedics rushed Neiman to Victor Valley Community Hospital, where he died of his injuries.

Authorities identified the alleged attacker as Johnny Acosta, 45, of Hesperia, a relative of the homeowners. Acosta fled the home after the 4:30 p.m. attack, but later surrendered to detectives without a struggle. He was booked on suspicion of murder and was being held without bail at West Valley Detention Center. Acosta is scheduled to appear in a Victorville court Thursday.

The motive for the attack remains unclear, Miller said.

Neiman was trying to build a life, said his sister, Casie Barnard, 26, of Irvine. She said he bought a house in May and recently was married at a "rockabilly" wedding in Las Vegas. "He used to joke about his nine lives," Barnard said. "He tried to live his life without fear."

Neiman loved dirt bikes, and it was while riding near his home in May that he got into an exchange with a man that led to his being stabbed six times, his sister said.

On his MySpace.com Web page, Neiman sarcastically states: "Never bring your fist to a knife fight." Several pictures on his photo pages document his head, body and leg wounds.

Three people were arrested on suspicion of attempted murder in the May attack.

"When he came home from Iraq, we thought, 'Oh, OK,' he got home safe," Barnard said. "We don't have to worry."

Neiman served with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment's India Company from October 2003 to 2008, according to his MySpace profile.

"You're supposed to be safe coming back here," said a current Marine who served two tours with Neiman and asked to remain anonymous because he is on active duty. "To know you could just go out and do your job and someone would have something in their mind to do that to somebody. It's sick."

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nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

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