Crime & Justice

California Supreme Court won't review 1983 murder conviction

The state's highest court declined today to review the case against a former Downey resident convicted of the February 1983 murder of a sanitation supervisor whose body was never found.

The California Supreme Court rejected a defense petition asking it to consider the case of John Jesus Alcantara, who was found guilty in March 2008 of first-degree murder for the slaying of Robert G. Bennett, a 52-year-old supervisor with the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County.

Authorities believe Alcantara, then 27, shot Bennett and dismembered his body, with the remains likely dumped at the Puente Hills landfill.

Bennett was last seen at the Whittier Narrows Sanitation Plant with Alcantara, who had been put on "improvement needed'' status.

In December, a three-justice panel from the 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected Alcantara's claim that there were errors in his trial in Norwalk Superior Court.

In his appeal, Alcantara contended that the trial judge erred in denying a motion to dismiss the case based on an alleged violation of his right to a speedy trial.

The appellate court justices found that "there was ample justification for the delay" in the case, noting that Alcantara's co-workers were afraid of him and that "some were not forthcoming when they spoke with police in 1983."

Two witnesses "withheld key pieces of evidence," and "a number of other witnesses did not tell police about incriminating admissions by appellant," the justices noted in their Dec. 30 ruling.

Alcantara was arrested in the killing in November 2005 and sentenced in March 2008 to 25 years to life in state prison.