Original article no longer available
Los Angeles Daily News
Carol Bidwell Daily News Staff Writer
22 August 1992
A North Hollywood man who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the strangulation of a prostitute he befriended was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in state prison.
Superior Court Judge Lawrence Storch also ordered Louis Haydn Gary, 43, to pay $2,566 to the parents of Najat Chehade, 26, to reimburse them for her funeral expenses.
“The court doesn’t really have options in sentencing,” Storch told Gary’s attorney, Louis Signer. “But the crime is so egregious, the court will not consider probation, especially in light of the obvious psychological problems your client has.”
Storch said he will recommend that Gary be sent to the California Institution for Men in San Luis Obispo, where he can get psychological help.
Signer blamed the murder of Chehade on Ritalin and Prozac, drugs prescribed for and taken by Gary to control mood swings and depression.
“Those two drugs altered his mental state,” Signer said. “There is no question in my mind that his capacity (to control his actions) was diminished.”
According to court documents, Gary strangled Chehade near Ojai on Dec. 16, 1990, and dumped her body into bushes along Highway 33. Prisoners being bused to the Rose Valley work camp spotted the body and told deputies.
In Chehade’s pocket, authorities found a key to Gary’s post office box. That led them to Gary, who was arrested a week later in Boise, Idaho, after police spotted his car in a car wash.
In his briefcase, police found plane tickets to several states and $22,000 in traveler’s checks. After his arrest, Gary told authorities he had planned to change his name and flee to Australia, officials said.
Peggy Chehade, the victim’s mother, wrote to the judge to ask that he lock Gary away for her daughter’s murder. She was a smart woman, college-educated, and her family was confident she would overcome her drug addiction and other problems and make a good life for herself, her mother wrote.
“The man who killed our daughter robbed us of ever knowing her future,” Peggy Chehade wrote. “That hope and those dreams have been taken away from us. What he did to our daughter was wrong.”
shorter version ran in T.O. edition, p.2.