LOS ANGELES — A Hawthorne man linked through DNA evidence to the 2004 killing of a woman in South Los Angeles after his arrest for a fatal hit-and-run in Orange County pleaded no contest Friday, May 19, to murder and other charges.
Jaqwun Laerin Turner, 36, was immediately sentenced to 34 years to life in state prison following his plea to first-degree murder, kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Turner was charged in 2015 with the April 10, 2004, slaying of Leah Deshay Benjamin, whose body was found wrapped in a blanket in an alley in the 10600 block of South Manhattan Place.
The 38-year-old woman died from blunt force head trauma, authorities said.
A background check of Turner revealed he had lived in “close proximity” to the area where Benjamin’s body was discovered, according to authorities.
Los Angeles police were notified in 2014 the California Department of Justice had gotten a match between Turner’s DNA profile and the DNA profile obtained from crime scene evidence. Los Angeles Police Department Robbery-Homicide Division detectives and members of the Scientific Investigation Division conducted a search of the location where Turner had once lived, and recovered DNA evidence linked to
Benjamin although the property had been sold in 2005, according to police.
Turner’s DNA was collected after his arrest by Santa Ana police on Jan. 29, 2014, in the death of Martha Rodenza, 51, of Los Angeles. Rodenza’s body was found on the northbound Santa Ana (5) Freeway at the westbound Garden Grove (22) Freeway after she fell from the truck just before 2:45 a.m. on Dec. 8, 2013.
Turner pleaded guilty in August 2014 to a felony hit-and-run charge and was sentenced to a year in county jail and five years’ probation.Orange County Deputy District Attorney Stephen Cornwell objected to the plea deal, saying later that Turner should have spent time in prison for leaving Rodenza to die alone…