Judge reduces man’s conviction in 2002 killing near Port of Long Beach

A state appeals court has reduced a man’s conviction from first-degree murder to second-degree murder and lopped 10 years off his sentence for the stabbing death of a San Gabriel resident who was found in 2002 at a parking lot at the Port of Long Beach.

In a 16-page ruling released Wednesday, the three-justice panel agreed with the defense’s contention that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that Stewart Maua Teofilo killed Maurice Howard with premeditation and deliberation.

“The undeniable brutality of the killing and the multiple stab wounds are not enough to show that Teofilo acted with careful thought and weighing of considerations,” the panel found. “Nothing supports a conclusion that Teofilo formed an intent to kill Howard upon preexisting reflection, actual deliberation, or forethought.”

The panel reduced Teofilo’s state prison sentence from 25 years to life to 15 years to life.

Teofilo was convicted in August 2016 of killing Howard, who was found dead near Pier E on June 24, 2002, inside a 1985 Chevy Blazer registered to the victim’s wife.    The 33-year-old victim had been stabbed 41 times.

A substantial amount of physical evidence was collected at the scene, with cold case investigators eventually submitting evidence to the Los Angeles County Crime Lab for DNA testing, according to Long Beach police.

In May 2014, detectives received information that a DNA profile resulted in a match to Teofilo, who had connections to Long Beach, according to police.

Teofilo—who lived in the central California city of Patterson—was arrested in Modesto in April 2015 while appearing in court on an unrelated case, police said.


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