A man from Compton received a prison sentence of 166 years and 8 months to life on Wednesday. The sentence was for shooting and injuring two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies as they sat in a patrol vehicle at a Metro station over three years ago.
Just five weeks ago, Deonte Lee Murray was found guilty of 10 counts, including two counts of attempted murder of a peace officer. This was in relation to the attack that took place on September 12, 2020, on Deputies Claudia Apolinar and Emmanuel Perez-Perez. The assault took place outside a Compton transit center and was captured on surveillance video.
Murray was found guilty by the jury on several counts, including attempted murder, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, carjacking, and robbery. Additionally, he was convicted on four charges of possessing a firearm as a felon.
During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Stephen Lonseth informed the jury that Murray was responsible for shooting four individuals, with the intention of killing three of them. Among those targeted were two sheriff’s deputies, who he allegedly attempted to ambush. Lonseth emphasized that this was not an impulsive act, but rather a premeditated attack.
According to Lonseth, Murray expressed disbelief that the deputies had not died after the incident.
During the trial, the prosecutor made it clear to the panel that Murray had taken deliberate and calculated actions to end the lives of Claudia Apolinar and Emmanuel Perez-Perez. The prosecutor emphasized that this was not a result of any impulsive decision, but rather a premeditated act.
On Monday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced that the second deputy who was ambushed in Compton has been released from the hospital.
Lonseth praised the “heroic actions” of Apolinar, who despite being wounded in the jaw and arms, tried to aid her partner. “They’re alive because of frankly a miracle,” he added.
During the court proceedings, Apolinar and Perez-Perez delivered heart-wrenching victim impact statements, shedding light on the immense difficulties they have faced during their recovery.
Perez-Perez expressed her pent-up emotions, “I have a lot to say…I’ve been holding onto my anger for a long time.”
Perez-Perez spoke, and Murray couldn’t help but laugh and shake his head in response.
During his recovery journey, Perez-Perez opened up about the mental injuries that he will carry with him for the rest of his life. He expressed, “There has been an abundance of pain, hurt, and sleepless nights.” In her victim impact statement, Apolinar vividly recounted the day of the shooting.
She stated that a person who lacked courage woke up that day with the intention of killing deputies. She expressed that evil had found them on that fateful day. In her statement, she reiterated that Murray’s actions deserved the highest possible punishment.
During the opening statement in August, the prosecutor informed jurors that Murray was driven by a desire for revenge and had “lost it” after his best friend, Sam Herrera, was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies during a search warrant operation in Compton on September 10, 2020. This incident occurred just two days before the ambush that resulted in Apolinar and Perez-Perez being attacked.
During the events of September 10, 2020, Murray reportedly fired repeatedly at a man whom he believed to be an undercover detective near the Compton courthouse. He then proceeded to flee the scene in a black Mercedes-Benz that had been stolen in a carjacking nine days prior. The victim of the carjacking had also been shot in the leg with a rifle. These details were shared with the panel by Lonseth, underscoring the severity of the situation.
According to the prosecutor, the accused was arrested on September 15, 2020, after a police chase. During the chase, the accused was driving a Toyota Solara and threw a “ghost gun” from the car. After abandoning the vehicle near an elementary school, the accused fled into a nearby neighborhood where he was eventually found hiding under a chicken coop in a resident’s backyard.
According to authorities, the gun used to shoot the sheriff’s deputies was confirmed to be a .40-caliber weapon through ballistics testing.
According to Murray’s attorney, Kate Hardie, her client was struggling with the effects of substance abuse and alcohol, compounded by the recent loss of his best friend who was fatally shot by other deputies from the same department, just two days prior.
During the trial, the defense lawyer emphasized the emotional toll that the days between September 10th and 12th had on Murray, stating that the person closest to him had been killed. He referred to this period as “the worst time in Mr. Murray’s life” in an effort to convey the gravity of the situation to the jurors.
During the trial, Hardie explained to the jurors that her client’s behavior was driven by a combination of alcohol, methamphetamine, and the sorrow he felt over losing his best friend. According to Hardie, his actions were impulsive and not premeditated.
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