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California Briefing / Garden Grove

Man is accused of killing prostitute

September 11, 2009|Tony Barboza

An alleged gang member from El Monte was arrested Thursday and charged with killing a prostitute in a Garden Grove hotel room last month, authorities said.

Cesar Gomez, 34, is accused of murder during the commission of a robbery in connection with the Aug. 20 beating and strangulation of 24-year-old Ashley Lilly of Inglewood at the Crown Plaza Anaheim Resort hotel, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

Gomez, whom police describe as a member of a Los Angeles street gang, was arrested after a traffic stop on Pioneer Boulevard just south of Artesia Boulevard in Artesia, said Garden Grove Police Lt. Travis Whitman.

Lilly checked into the hotel Aug. 19. Authorities said she posted on escort and dating websites that she would be staying three days and instructed men to contact her to meet for sex.

Late the next night or early on the morning of Aug. 21, Gomez is accused of showing up at Lilly's hotel room and attacking her. After she was killed, prosecutors said, the hotel room was ransacked and some items stolen. The hotel staff found Lilly dead on the floor of her room just before 10 a.m. Aug. 21.

Investigators linked Gomez to the crime through DNA collected at the scene. Gomez was convicted of attempted murder in 1993 in Pomona, authorities said.

He was being held without bail by Garden Grove police. If convicted, he could face a minimum sentence of life in prison without parole.

-- Tony Barboza

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