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Former LA fire captain found guilty in 2006 killing

March 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A former Los Angeles Fire Department captain has been convicted of murdering a woman five years ago.

After two weeks of deliberations, the Superior Court panel found David Del Toro guilty Wednesday of the lesser charge of second-degree murder after acquitting him of first-degree murder. The verdict was announced Thursday. Del Toro's conviction carries a potential sentence of 25 years to life.

Authorities say Jennifer Flores' nude and bloody body was found dumped on an Eagle Rock street in August 2006, just a few blocks away from Del Toro's home. Investigators found Flores' blood in Del Toro's home and truck.

The former fire captain denies killing Flores but also testified that he was so drunk he could not remember everything that happened that day.

Del Toro also denied that he had any romantic interest in Flores, but Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace told jurors in his closing argument that Del Toro "tried to have sex with" Flores, killed her after "she said no" and "counted on the cover of darkness to hide his crime."

Flores, 42, was a homeless acquaintance of the 54-year-old fire captain. He broke her nose, jaw and ribs and strangled her after Flores refused to have sex with him, then loaded her nude body into his pickup truck and dumped it on a street a mile away, prosecutors argued.

Del Toro's lawyers said that the 23-year fire veteran blacked out from alcohol and exhaustion after working more than 200 hours over a two-week period and couldn't have killed her.

Del Toro showed little emotion as the guilty verdict was read, but Flores' family and friends wept with joy, relieved that the man who brutally murdered her was finally brought to justice.

"He's not going to suffer for nearly as much as he made my sister suffer and the hell that he's put myself, my wife and my family through," said the victim's brother, Richard Flores. "I wish he would go to prison and never come out. Having said that though, I pray for his soul."

Jurors spent two weeks considering the case before two jurors were excused on Monday and a new panel was ordered to resume new deliberations. The new panel spent about two days discussing the case before announcing it had reached a verdict.

Defense attorneys are planning to file a motion to disclose juror information and possibly file another motion requesting a retrial. These motions, if they do happen, will occur in court on April 15.

Del Toro had worked at fire stations in the Skid Row area, Lincoln Heights, Silver Lake, Hollywood and Arleta. He retired from the Fire Department following his arrest.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this story.