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Appeals court upholds Palmdale man’s conviction


Three dead in ‘bogus’ drug deal

A state appeals court panel this week upheld a transient’s conviction for a shooting during a bogus marijuana deal in Palmdale that left three men dead and another seriously wounded.

The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the appeal filed on behalf of Jonathan Paul Misirli, who was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for the Jan. 16, 2019, killings of Olukayode Owolabi, 27, and David Hernandez-Licona, 25, both of Los Angeles, and Sean Cowen, 24, of Van Nuys, at Ranch Center Drive and 40th Street West.

Misirli, now 40, was also found guilty of one count each of attempted murder–involving a man who survived but was seriously wounded–and robbery.

Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations of murder during a robbery, murder while lying in wait and multiple murders.

Misirli set up a bogus drug deal and then shot the four victims while they were inside two vehicles, according to Deputy District Attorney Ryan Williams.

The defendant took a bag containing about $2,500 in cash and about $10,000 in jewelry that was later pawned, but missed a separate container that had $15,000 in cash, Williams said.

Misirli was arrested by homicide detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department about 3 1/2 months later as he walked along North Vermont Avenue in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles, after investigators learned that he had been living in the park area surrounding the Griffith Park Observatory.

He was sentenced in October 2021 to life in prison without the possibility of parole after a trial in Lancaster, in which he testified in his own defense.

The defense contended in its appeal that the trial court erred in ordering him restrained during his trial, but the appellate court panel ruled that Misirli has “failed to point to any such order in the record.”

“Indeed, the record does not reveal if Misirli remained seated during the trial due to a court order, physical restraints, disability, or some other cause,” the appellate court panel noted in its seven-page opinion. “The sole evidence Misirli cites is the statement in which the court told the jury that Misirli was ‘not permitted to stand.’ However, the actual reason Misirli did not stand is not revealed in the record…there is no court ruling Misirli claims was erroneous nor is there record evidence supporting his claim of error.”