LANCASTER – A ranch hand has been found guilty of two murders at a plastic surgeon’s ranch in Lancaster, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Antonio Martínez, 51, was found guilty Thursday of the 2006 murder of 64-year-old Dr. Esfandiar “Steve” Kadivar and the 2007 murder of Efrain Martines, according to Deputy District Attorney Michael Blake.
The jury also found true the special circumstance allegations of murder for financial gain, lying in wait and multiple murders pertaining to the killings of victims Kadivar and Martines.
The alleged mastermind, Nicolas Cordoba, 63, also was found guilty of Efrain Martines’ murder. Jurors found true the special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and murder for financial gain, pertaining to Martines’ killing.
Both defendants face life in prison without the possibility of parole at sentencing, which is scheduled for Sept. 26 at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
Dr. Kadivar, who had medical offices in Palmdale, had a 200-acre ranch where he grew pistachio nuts, alfalfa and raised livestock, because it reminded him of his native Iran. Cordoba lived on the remote Lancaster property and orchestrated the killings, according to trial testimony.
On July 5, 2006, co-defendants Antonio Martínez and Arturo Rosales Verdín shot the doctor with a high powered rifle as he fed his animals, according to the prosecutor.
Cordoba negotiated a lease of the ranch after the doctor’s murder and brought in victim Martines to help finance the lease, according to witness testimony.
The following year, Cordoba had a falling out with Martines and then hired 38-year-old Marco Antonio García to kill Martines for $5,000, witnesses said.
On April 28, 2007, García shot Martines with an SKS assault rifle while he worked at the ranch. Antonio Martínez and Verdín helped García carry out the murder and orchestrate the removal of the victim’s remains from the property to a location where he was found a few days later, several miles away, the prosecutor added.
García pleaded guilty to the murder of Efrain Martines on June 4. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 5.
Jury selection for the fourth co-defendant, 47-year-old Arturo Rosales Verdín, is scheduled to begin on Sept. 15. He also is charged with the murders of Kadivar and Martines.
The case was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Homicide Bureau.