Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
SON FACES TRIAL FOR 1999 Y2K PLOT TO HAVE PARENTS MURDERED TO STEAL THEIR LIFE SAVINGS
SANTA ANA – A son faces trial Monday for plotting the stabbing-murder of his parents in 1999 in order to steal their savings, which had been placed in a safety deposit box in anticipation of Y2K. Jose Alonso Najera Jr., 29, Garden Grove, is charged with two felony counts of murder with special circumstances for murder for financial gain and multiple murders. If convicted, Najera faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Opening statements are expected to begin Monday, May 17, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Co-defendant Gerald Thomas Johnson, 29, Villa Park, (Case #00WF0080) was convicted by a jury March 15, 2002, of two felony counts of special circumstances murder with a sentencing enhancement for multiple murders. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on May 22, 2002.
In 1999, Najera’s parents, 42-year-old Jose Najera Sr. and 46-year-old Elena Najera, withdrew their savings from their bank accounts in anticipation of the Y2K bug and put their money in a safety deposit box. Najera, then 19 years old, lived with his parents in Garden Grove and had access to the family’s safety deposit box.
Najera is accused of plotting with Johnson, a friend from high school, to murder Najera’s parents. Najera is accused of arranging the murder in order to steal his parents savings. On Dec. 27, 1999, Najera is accused of leaving a window open to his home so that Johnson could enter the house that night. Najera is accused of then going to Johnson’s house. Johnson invited several additional friends to his house that night to give the two defendants an alibi for the time of the murder.
While his friends were still having a party at his house, Johnson drove to Najera’s house in the early morning of Dec. 28, 1999. Najera is accused of staying behind in an effort to avoid being suspected of the murders. Johnson entered the victims’ house through the open window wearing a ski mask to disguise his identity and stabbed Jose Najera Sr. and Elena Najera more than 20 times each.
As the victims struggled for their lives, Johnson’s ski mask was pulled off and left in the house. The defendant murdered the victims and fled the scene. At approximately 4:30 a.m., Najera is accused of pretending to have no knowledge of the murders and calling 911 to report that he had come home to find his parents dead on the floor.
The Garden Grove Police Department investigated the case and Johnson was charged in 2000 after being linked to the crime through hair and saliva DNA found on the ski mask, which was recovered from the crime scene. Najera was charged in 2008 as a result of additional investigation and a re-review of the case.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Mike Murray of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.