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Pasadena Man Who Served Nearly 30 Years in Prison for Killing Stepmother Faces New Murder Charges in Death of Retired Doctor

Published on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 | 5:47 am
Timothy Chavira Image courtesy California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation

A Pasadena man who spent nearly three decades in state prison for killing his stepmother now faces new murder charges for allegedly murdering a retired doctor in El Sereno last month, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a news statement.

Timothy Chavira, 56, was charged with one count of murder along with a special circumstance allegation that he was previously convicted of first-degree murder. He was expected to be arraigned Monday at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles.

Chavira was accused of killing Editha Cruz de Leon, 76, on December 7, 2019, using a sharp object. The alleged crime occurred at the victim’s home in the 3900 block of North Van Horne Ave. in El Sereno.

Chavira was arrested two weeks later in Pasadena.

Chavira had previously been found guilty of first-degree murder for beating and stabbing his stepmother, Laurie Ann Chavira, to death in 1986. He was sentenced to 26 years to life in state prison for that crime, and was released on parole in July 2017.

For the new murder case, Chavira could face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted as charged. A decision on whether to seek capital punishment will be made at a later date, the District Attorney’s Office said.

The victim was born in the Philippines and immigrated to the U.S. with her husband in 1970, according to her obituary. After completing her residency at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and becoming an OB/GYN doctor, she and her family moved to Indiana and eventually California in the 1980s. After she retired from medical practice, De Leon traveled extensively across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia before eventually slowing down to be at home and closer to her grandchildren both in California and New Jersey.

She is survived by her five sons and five grandchildren.

Chavira remains in custody, with bail set at $2 million. The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes of the Major Crimes Division is prosecuting the case.

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