An ex-fugitive faces up to 50 years to life in prison after a jury convicted him Wednesday of murder for shooting a handyman to death in Silver Lake, cutting off the victim’s hand and fleeing the country in a bizarre killing that remains unexplained to this day.
The Los Angeles County Superior Court jury deliberated for about three hours before finding Alan Machain, 37, guilty of first-degree murder for the Oct. 8, 2008, killing of 44-year-old Cesar Valenzuela of South Gate, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The jury also found true the special allegation that he personally used a handgun in the crime.
Valenzeula had been hired to perform repairs and maintenance at a triplex in the 1400 block of Silver Lake Boulevard when he was killed, authorities said.
“Machain shot Valenzuela at least three times and cut off his left hand inside of the home,” District Attorney’s Office spokesman Paul Eakins said in a written statement.
The victim’s body was discovered in the bathroom of the home five days later, Eakins said. “His hand was never found.”
A reason for the killing was never established during the trial, Eakins said. “The motive wasn’t clear.”
Machain’s brother was an employee of the triplex where the killing occurred, prosecutors said. Machain, described as a former Lynwood resident, had been periodically allowed to stay in an unoccupied unit.
Los Angeles Police Department detectives sought Machain for an interview the day after Valenzuela’s body was found, Eakins said. “He fled the area on Oct. 14 before they were able to contact him.”
Investigators located surveillance footage that showed Machain driving the victim’s truck, according to Eakins. “His EBT transactions also stopped the day after the victim’s body was discovered.”
Machain remained at-large for nearly 9 years and was featured on the television series “America’s Most Wanted.”
Mexican authorities took Machain into custody in Mexico and turned him over to their U.S. counterparts on June 21, 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said at the time in a written statement.
Further details regarding the circumstances of his captured were not available.
Machain faces up to 50 years to life in prison when he returns to court for sentencing on Nov. 19.