Convicted Pasadena Killer Denied Appeal in 2013 Murder of 21-Year-Old La Canada Man

Published : Monday, June 17, 2019 | 4:47 AM

The victim, Zane Goldstein, was shot and killed on January 15, 2013.

A three-justice panel from California’s Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles on Tuesday upheld a man’s 50-year prison sentence for the murder of a 21-year-old man during a drug deal in Pasadena in January 2013.

The court rejected John Michael Piepoli Jr.’s contention that Judge Ronald S. Coen of the Los Angeles Superior Court abused his discretion by declining last year to strike a firearm enhancement that doubled Piepoli’s sentence, a report by City News Service Wednesday said.

Piepoli, who was not at the scene of the killing, was one of five men convicted in connection with the January 15, 2013 shooting of Zane Goldstein.

Goldstein, who sustained a gunshot wound to the head, died in a hospital two days after the shooting.

Piepoli was initially sentenced in November 2014 to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but the case was sent back for re-sentencing after a state appellate court panel, in November 2016, found insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding of a special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a robbery against him.

In their ruling, the appellate court justices found that there was insufficient evidence that appellant was a major participant in the underlying robbery, and that he did not plan the “criminal enterprise that led to Zane’s death,” according to court records. The court also said Piepoli was not present at the scene of the attempted robbery or Goldstein’s shooting.

“There was no evidence appellant knew that a gun would be used,” the judges wrote. “At most, the evidence showed that appellant thought a knife might be used in the robbery.”

Piepoli was re-sentenced in February 2018 – this time to 50 years to life in state prison.

Three other men – Peter Parra, Kevin Jessie Cabrera and Raymond Frank Conchas – were also convicted and are serving life prison sentences without the possibility of parole for their roles in the shooting. A state appellate court panel upheld their convictions, and the California Supreme Court refused to review the case against them.

A fifth man, Ward Lacey IV, was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

During Piepoli’s trial, Deputy District Attorney Stefan Mrakich said he is convinced Piepoli was not at the crime scene, but told jurors that the accused was equally guilty.

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