Man gets life sentence for killing witness who testified against him

A man convicted of fatally shooting a witness—who had been on the way to court to testify in a robbery case against him—was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Superior Court Judge Raul A. Sahagun imposed the term on Jahmal Frazier, 29, of Compton, who was found guilty April 16 of first-degree murder for the April 5, 2011, slaying of Roshan Bhandari in Bellflower.

The Norwalk jury also found true the special circumstance allegations of murder of a witness and murder while lying in wait, along with an allegation that Frazier personally and intentionally discharged a firearm causing death.

A day before he was killed, Bhandari had testified in Frazier’s robbery case. He was shot five times in an employee parking lot while leaving his job at a 7-Eleven store on Artesia Boulevard in Bellflower to go back to court for a second day of questioning involving the October 2010 armed robbery by a masked assailant at the store, according to Deputy District Attorney Robert Villa.

Frazier was charged with Bhandari’s murder in 2013 while he was serving a 15-year state prison term after being convicted of robbing the store.

In her opening statement in the trial’s penalty phase, Deputy District Attorney Monique Preoteasa showed jurors courtroom surveillance footage of Bhandari walking to the stand in the robbery case.

“Those steps to the witness stand cost Roshan Bhandari his life,” Preoteasa said.

While behind bars, Frazier—an admitted gang member—stabbed a jailhouse inmate during a June 2018 brawl, the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney David R. Evans asked jurors to spare the life of his client, whom he said was “raised on the streets of Compton” after being taken from his mother as a baby and placed in foster care.

He told the panel that experts would testify that Frazier suffered from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, an intellectual disability and post-traumatic stress disorder and that he had a IQ of 75.

About two hours after the trial’s penalty phase started on April 18, the defendant agreed to waive his right to appeal in exchange for the District Attorney’s Office decision not to pursue a death sentence against him.

Jurors were dismissed after the District Attorney’s Office agreed to the deal with Frazier for the life prison term.

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