Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Hiring Hit Man to Kill Wife at La Mirada Park in 1992

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Morrad Ghonim at his trial in a Norwalk court earlier in 2016. (Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

A businessman was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 1992 slaying of his 17-year-old wife, who prosecutors say was shot by a hired hit man in La Mirada.

Morrad Ghonim, 43, was convicted by a Norwalk jury last month of first-degree murder in connection with the death of his wife, Vicki. The victim was shot in the couple’s car in Creek Park as their 6-month-old son sat in the backseat.

Ghonim, then 19, said the shooting occurred after his wife had 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.

The case went unsolved for years until DNA tests on clothing found at the scene found a genetic match to a prison inmate serving time for burglary — Leon Martinez. Initially, Martinez told authorities his dead friend was the gunman, but he eventually confessed to shooting Vicki Ghonim, saying her husband had hired him as a hit man.

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