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Arraignment continued for OC attorney extradited in ex-wife murder

Lonnie Kocontes, 55, of Safety Harbor, Fla. (left) was arrested on one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. He is accused of allegedly strangling his ex-wife, identified as Micki Kanesaki (right), and throwing her body overboard on a cruise in Italy in 2006.

March 11, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A former Orange County attorney accused of strangling his ex-wife in Italy had his arraignment continued to March 15. He was held without bail.

Lonnie Loren Kocontes, a 55-year-old former resident of Mission Viejo, was arrested at his home in Florida on Feb. 16. The California man was extradited to Orange County Friday to face a charge of murder for financial gain.

In May 2006, Kocontes and ex-wife Micki Kanesaki were on a cruise in Italy. Kocontes is accused of murdering Kanesaki by strangling her and throwing her body overboard.

The motive is believed to be money. The couple both worked for the same law firm in the 1990s and were married for six years before they divorced in 2001. The couple continued to live together on and off through 2006, when Kocontes reported her missing, according to prosecutors.

Authorities say Kocontes inherited several of the couple's bank accounts, properties, and proceeds from the sale of their home as a result of his ex-wife's death.

According to the O.C. District Attorney's Office, federal investigators began investigating Kocontes for illegal activity after he attempted to transfer more than $1 million between various bank accounts with his new wife.

In 2010, the District Attorney's office requested an additional investigation on the murder case. New evidence was uncovered by the O.C. sheriff's department in 2012, leading to the suspect's arrest in Feb.

Kocontes is facing one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The suspect is also eligible for the death penalty.

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