A British national was found guilty Tuesday on two counts of murder in the stabbing death of a woman and the decapitation of her boyfriend in what a prosecution witness said was a drug-fueled, paranoid slaughter at a Tujunga condominium.
Jurors deliberated for about a week before returning the guilty verdicts against Neil Revill, 38, a small-time drug dealer, nearly a decade after the October 2001 killings of Arthur Davodian and Kimberly Crayton.
A jailhouse informant told jurors in the six-week trial that Revill confessed to murdering the pair, believing that Davodian was involved in a plot with Israeli organized crime figures who planned on killing him.
Revill was convicted of second-degree murder for Davodian's death and first-degree murder for Crayton's slaying.
Revill also was convicted on two counts of transporting controlled substances. The jury deadlocked on a fifth charge of assault with a deadly weapon for an unrelated incident in which he was accused of threatening someone with a knife.
Emotions ran high among family members, several of whom showed up in court with bloodshot eyes even before the verdicts were read. Davodian's brother chewed on a bottle cap until it became a warped, unrecognizable piece of plastic. Another relative shredded the edges of a taped paper sign barring cellphones in the courtroom.
Revill appeared calm as he awaited the verdicts, nodding as jurors filed into their seats.
"I do feel a relief…but this doesn't bring my brother back," said Davodian's sister, Arlin Davidian, who rested her head on her mother's shoulder during the hearing. "My family and I will never feel complete again. We never got through it, we just learned to walk around it."
Revill's attorney, Michael Crain, said outside court that he was "very disappointed" by the verdict and that he continued to believe his client was not responsible for the killings. He reiterated what he argued at trial — that DNA of an unknown male found at the scene in addition to Revill's pointed to a different killer. During trial, defense attorneys also attacked the credibility of the jailhouse informant, Benjamin Chloupek, who had a long criminal record including convictions for involuntary manslaughter and child abuse.
Prosecutors said the informant's account was supported by DNA evidence, including a spot of Revill's blood on Crayton's 14-month-old daughter, who was at the scene but was unharmed. According to the informant's testimony, Revill cut himself while struggling with Davodian, then changed the baby's diaper when she began crying, leaving a drop of his blood on the baby's dress.
Chloupek testified that Revill told him he cut off Davodian's head in an attempt to make police believe that an organized crime group was behind the murders.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Phillip Stirling said Tuesday the prosecution successfully demonstrated to jurors that the unknown DNA predated the murders.
"There's no evidence anyone else was involved in the crime," he said.
Revill faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced April 22. Prosecutors decided last year not to seek the death penalty; a spokeswoman said the office does not discuss the reasons behind such decisions.