LOS ANGELES (AP) — A South Los Angeles man who went on the run for a decade was sentenced to 32 years to life in prison Thursday for a botched robbery that killed a German tourist and shocked suburban Santa Monica.
Paul Carpenter, 35, was sentenced for his role in the October 1998 killing of Horst Fietze near a hotel in the seaside city. Fietze, 50, a building supervisor from Lobau, Germany, was shot when he refused to hand over his wife's handbag to three robbers who fled without taking anything.
"We depend upon a sense of confidence that we can walk our streets safely and this was probably one of the first events that kind of broke or shattered that sense of calm, or that sense of serenity, in Santa Monica," Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace told reporters outside court.
A hotel security camera recorded the crime and police matched fingerprints found in the getaway car to two suspects who were arrested two months later. A third suspect was arrested in January 1999.
Carpenter, however, took off and remained a fugitive for nearly a decade. In 2007 the FBI sought public help in solving the cold case, noting that he used 11 aliases and four birth dates, may have traveled to San Diego and South Carolina and could be living abroad.
He was working at a BMW dealership in Kingston, Jamaica, under an assumed name when he was arrested in 2009 following a tip to the FBI.
In 2011, Carpenter was convicted of first-degree murder with a special circumstance that the killing occurred during a robbery. He also was found guilty of three counts of attempted second-degree robbery with a special circumstance that he had a gun.
He was sentenced to a total of 32 years to life in state prison but will have a chance for parole, Los Angeles County district attorney's spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Carpenter made no statement in court during his sentencing, she said.
Three other defendants were convicted in 2001 for their roles in the holdup. The gunman, Lamont Dion Santos, was sentenced to 35 years to life in prison with a chance of parole. The getaway driver, Roshana Latiesha Roberts, was sentenced to more than 13 years. An accomplice, Tyrina Lakeisha Griffin, was sentenced to 16 years to life in prison.
"Even though he wasn't the actual shooter, he made a choice to be involved in a robbery," Grace said of Carpenter.
The murder, part of an unusual surge in Santa Monica homicides that year, triggered an emotional response from residents of the normally peaceful city. After the killing a steady stream of people stopped at the spot under a palm tree, leaving flowers and notes.