Two Los Angeles men were ordered Wednesday to stand trial on charges they tied up a Torrance man, strangled him with a belt, took his car and television, and dragged his body to the side of his house, where he lay dead for several days.
Joshua Alfano, 21, and Morgan Delange, 19, could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted of murder, robbery, burglary and kidnapping charges with special circumstances, Deputy District Attorney Don Syn said.
The men are accused of killing 67-year-old Norman Mangus, who was found dead March 23, 2012, outside his house in the 20400 block of Roslin Avenue when a friend asked police to check on him.
Mangus was lying on his back, wearing jeans and a gray shirt pulled up to his chest. His ankles were bound with plastic zip ties. A -inch-wide leather belt was wrapped around his neck and a black beanie was stuffed into his mouth, testified Mathew Smith, a Torrance police crime scene investigator, during a preliminary hearing in Torrance court.
Mangus' red 2002 Toyota Celica and a 42-inch television were missing.
Torrance police Detective Jim Wallace said Alfano and Delange, roommates at a Los Angeles hostel, admitted during questioning to committing the crime, each blaming the slaying on the other man as detectives played them against each other. Alfano claimed Delange used the belt to strangle Mangus and shoved the beanie in his mouth, while Delange said the opposite, Wallace said.
According to testimony from several police officers, detectives immediately focused on Alfano after Mangus' body was discovered. Alfano earlier had rented a room for $200 at Mangus' house but that relationship soured.
Mangus had filed two crime reports against Alfano, claiming Alfano punched him in the chest when Mangus confronted him about rent money he owed. Mangus also accused Alfano of prying open a safe to steal $14,000 worth of jewelry and $27,000 cash.
The evidence against Alfano and his roommate mounted:
Delange received a traffic ticket in Los Angeles while driving the Celica, three days before Mangus was discovered dead.
Alfano complained to his landlord that he received a parking ticket on the Celica because there was no room to park the car in his driveway on street-sweeping day.
Police discovered plastic zip ties, beanies and leather gloves in their hostel room.
Mangus' wallet was found in a dresser drawer in their room.
A metal key found on the walkway outside Mangus' house opened a door at the hostel.
Wallace said Alfano and Delange admitted to going to Mangus' house with a ruse to rob him of his car and television. Alfano told police they wore ski masks, but took them off when Mangus walked out of his house. Alfano carried a package with rosary beads and a cross showing to make it look like he was returning some of Mangus' stolen jewelry, Wallace said.
Mangus hugged Alfano, but quickly came under attack. Cho Lwin, a county deputy medical examiner, said Mangus died of asphyxia due to strangulation. He also suffered blunt force trauma to the back of his head, Lwin testified.
During an interview with detectives, Delange referred to Mangus as a "fighter" because he was trying to breathe, Wallace said.
Judge Hector Guzman said enough evidence existed to hold Delange and Alfano for trial. Their arraignment in Torrance Superior Court was scheduled for Feb. 20.
Each was ordered held in county jail without bail.
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