Long Beach murders: Arrests made in 2 high-profile cases


The January 2009 murder of 76-year-old Leam Sovanasy inside her home stunned her predominantly Cambodian neighborhood in northeast Long Beach. Police say it was a burglary gone bad.

"Who in their right mind would kill an elderly lady like this?" said Walter Nguyen, who runs a convenience store right down the street from where Sovanasy was killed.

Sovanasy's murder went unsolved for almost four years until police finally got a break in the case.

"The detectives never gave up the case. They continued to work it and every tidbit of information they could get," Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said at a Wednesday news conference.

Dontae Davis, 24, and Freddie Battle, 25, were arrested last week. Police say they got a tip back in July about a white Chevrolet Caprice spotted in the neighborhood on the day of Sovanasy's murder. That tip led to a composite sketch, which eventually led to the two suspects.

In August, detectives said they received a call from a man who said he was the person in the composite sketch. The caller identified himself as Dontae Davis. He attempted to obtain information from the detective about the investigation and said he would come down to the station with his attorney, but he never showed up.

"From a record check, it was learned that Dontae Davis had an extensive criminal history that included arrest for theft, burglary and robbery," said McDonnell.

The investigation eventually led detectives to Battle. They took DNA samples from both suspects and were able to match them with samples collected from the murder scene.

Battle, a Long Beach resident, was arrested last Thursday in Long Beach near the home of an acquaintance. During his arrest, authorities found a loaded firearm on him.

Dontae Davis, who also goes by Daniia Lasean Davis, was arrested Friday near his home in Victorville.

Police say the two suspects were probably looking for someone to rob and they simply chose Sovanasy's home on the 1400 block of Peterson Avenue at random. They entered through a window.

"What we understand was taken from the scene here was, among maybe other things, a purse containing cash," said McDonnell.

The two suspects were charged with murder, use of a dangerous weapon during a murder, first-degree burglary, and murder during the commission of a burglary.

Long Beach police on Wednesday also announced a break in the unsolved murder of 23-year-old Jazzmine Wash, who was shot to death on her son's third birthday in July.

Police said 30-year-old Jason Hagerty ambushed Wash outside her grandmother's house because he blamed her for a probation violation that was going to send him back to jail.

"He was not yet in custody, but he was fearful he was going to be in custody," said Lt. Lloyd Cox with the Long Beach Police Department. "It's our belief that because of that fear, he used that to make the decision that she needed to die."

Investigators say Hagerty got help from a 16-year-old female accomplice, who was friends with the victim. They said all three knew each other. According to authorities, the alleged accomplice will be charged as an adult.

Haggerty has an extensive criminal history, which includes assaults, property crimes, narcotics violations, and fraud.

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