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Brothers elated at arrest in father's long-ago slaying

In 1981, Joseph Azevedo was shot by a burglar inside his Lancaster home. Nearly 30 years later, cold case detectives arrested Christopher David Winter, an Indiana truck driver. 'Now we got some closure,' says son Kevin Azevedo.

January 10, 2011|By Corina Knoll, Los Angeles Times

Armando Azevedo was 17 when he and his 9-year-old brother discovered their father's body lying in a pool of blood inside his Lancaster mobile home. It was May 2, 1981, and Joseph Azevedo, 50, had been fatally shot by a burglar.

"He pretty much bled out," recalled Armando, now 47. "I didn't react too good. It was a big blow."

Nearly 30 years had passed when Armando and his three brothers received startling news: Los Angeles County sheriff's cold case detectives had made an arrest in the case.

Christopher David Winter, a 55-year-old Indiana truck driver, is accused of shooting Joseph while robbing the aircraft mechanic's home. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Forensic evidence was gathered after Joseph's death, but no suspects were identified. In 2006, the files was reopened and new DNA evidence led investigators to Winter. Insufficient evidence forced them to drop the case.

Four years later, L.A. County sheriff's homicide detectives reexamined prior statements and used modern forensic analysis to again identify Winter as a suspect. They presented their evidence to the county district attorney's office, which in November filed charges of burglary and murder with special circumstances.

After issuing an arrest warrant, detectives learned that Winter was a long-haul truck driver living in Indiana and notified the FBI. Assisted by local police, agents arrested him without incident Nov. 6 after he made a delivery to a grocery store distribution center in Tipp City, Ohio.

After extradition proceedings, Los Angeles County detectives traveled to Ohio and brought back Winter on Jan. 6. He is being held without bail in the Men's Central Jail.

Winter's arrest elated Azevedo's children, who had become fascinated by cold cases on TV shows and in the news.

"I kept telling myself maybe someday," said Kevin Azevedo, 49, who lives near Erie, Penn. "It's been a long time, but I tell you what, now we got some closure. Since it happened, none of us brothers have been the same."

Armando said he plans to attend the trial. "I guess I just need to know that it's done and over," he said.

corina.knoll@latimes.com

Times staff writer Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.

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