Antigua businessman gets life imprisonment for hiring hitman to kill teen wife

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(CMC) An Antigua-based businessman, who was extradited from the island in 2015, has been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole after he was found guilty of murdering his first wife more than two decades ago.

antiguaMorrad Ghonim, who has since married Dominican beauty queen Nadira Lando in 2014, was sentenced on Monday with the sister of the dead woman describing him as “a coward and a monster”.

Ghonim was found guilty last month of first-degree murder after he was charged with the 1992 murder of his teenage wife, Victoria in the Los Angeles area.

He was deported from Antigua in 2015 where he operated a beauty store, two months after a jury in the US convicted 42-year-old Leon Martinez as being the hit man in the murder. He was reportedly paid US$5000 to commit the crime.

Prosecutors successfully argued that Ghonim was the one who hatched the plan to kill his 17-year-old wife.

Ghonim and Martinez were both arrested in 2010, but the case against Ghonim was dropped because of a lack of evidence at that time.

Three months later, the Jordanian-born Ghonim left the US to live in Antigua. But the criminal case against Martinez proceeded, and in 2012 he confessed that Ghonim was involved in the matter.

Ghonim, 43, had said at the time that the shooting occurred after his wife exchanged words with a group of people he thought were gang members catcalling her. The shooter — or shooters — he said, had been hiding behind bushes so he never got a look at who had attacked his wife.

She was shot to death while sitting in a car with her husband and 6-month-old son in a La Mirada park.

During Monday’s hearing Ghonim demanded a continuance so he could have more time to prove his innocence.

“I didn’t do anything. I loved her,” he told the court.

His attorney Alan Eisner said he expects his client to be vindicated during the appeals process.

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