Santa Ana – Deborah Perna, 49, of Buena Park, was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for the murder-for-hire of her own brother. She was convicted by a jury on October 28, 2005, of first-degree murder and of the special circumstances of committing the murder in the course of attempted robbery and kidnapping.
On October 2, 2002, 44-year-old David Montemayor, a married father of three, was kidnapped by three men at his Rancho Dominguez business. Perna, the office manager of the company, believed that her brother was stealing from their family business and wanted him out of the way. She asked her secretary Edelmira Corona, to ask her friend Anthony Navarro to kill the victim in exchange for several thousand dollars in cash the victim was rumored to be storing at his home. Navarro is accused of recruiting Gerardo Lopez, Armando Macias, and Alberto Martinez, three lower level members of his gang, to kidnap and kill Montemayor.
After kidnapping Montemayor, the accused hired killers drove the victim towards his home in Buena Park to get the money. About a mile from his house Montemayor was able to get out of the car and run away. Macias and Lopez are accused of firing their weapons. Montemayor was hit in the head and killed. The defendants fled the scene and were involved in a televised police chase during rush hour. Police eventually stopped the vehicle and all three defendants were taken into custody.
Macias, Martinez, and Navarro have been charged separately for the murder of David Montemayor and the Orange County District Attorney will be seeking the death penalty for the three. The trial date for the death penalty case is March 21, 2006, in Department C45. Lopez was tried separately and convicted of special-circumstances murder. His sentencing is scheduled for March 24. Corona pled guilty to manslaughter in March of 2004 and faces a maximum sentence of 22 years in state prison.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan Wagner in the District Attorney’s Gang Unit is prosecuting the cases. “In a cold, calculated manner, Perna plotted the murder of her own flesh-and-blood brother. Her actions reveal her to be a callous, selfish individual with no regard for the life of her brother and his family. It was more important to Ms. Perna to give vent to her anger and avenge her wounded, jealous feelings than to let her brother live, to let her sister-in-law have a husband, and to let her nieces and nephew have a father. For this, Ms. Perna deserves the full measure of punishment provided by law and spend the rest of her life behind bars,” stated Wagner.