Man convicted in rape, robbery spree that targeted elderly Long Beach women

A 40-year-old Lynwood man was convicted Friday of more than a dozen felonies for a series of robberies, sexual assaults and burglaries that targeted elderly women in Long Beach last year, according to a court official.

Following a weeklong trial, jurors deliberated for less than a day before deciding Melvin Earl Farmer Jr. was guilty on 13 of 14 counts, including sexual battery by restraint, dissuading a witness, assault, robbery, elder abuse, rape, three counts of residential robbery and three counts of burglary.

Jurors hung on a final count, deadlocking on whether Farmer raped a 24-year-old woman on Jan. 20, a couple of weeks before the Long Beach spree, according to court records.

During trial, prosecutor Christmas Brookens presented jurors with DNA evidence, security camera footage and witnesses that she said proved Farmer committed the crimes, including sexually assaulting a woman in her 60s and a woman in her 90s during the spree between Feb. 2 and Feb. 9, 2017.


Long Beach police released this video still from security camera footage while they were still looking for Melvin Earl Farmer, Jr. last year. Courtesy Long Beach police.

Most of Farmer’s crimes happened at a senior housing complex near Atlantic Avenue and Via Carmelitos, according to authorities. One woman testified she saw Farmer running away from an elderly woman who’d just been punched and robbed at the complex on Feb. 2, 2017.

“She was on the floor and she had her hands over her face and she was crying,” Artina Hilan said.

Farmer will be sentenced at a later date. Prosecutors previously said he faced up to life in prison if he were to be convicted on all counts.

A Lynwood woman has also been convicted of helping Farmer during one of the crimes on Feb. 9, 2017. Sophia Yim, 33, pleaded no contest to one count of burglary and one count of robbery earlier this month. She’s scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 6 where she could face up to six years behind bars, court records show.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children.