Crime & Justice

Man sentenced to life in prison for killing Hollywood liquor store clerk

A man convicted of murdering a Hollywood liquor store employee and trying to kill another worker during an attempted robbery that was caught on video in 2007 was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael E. Pastor also ordered Rodney Bourgeois to serve an additional 57 years to life behind bars.

"Your actions in this case were reprehensible," the judge told the 21-year-old defendant, noting that "two lives were ruined."

The young man targeted two "innocent people trying to make a decent living," Pastor said.

Bourgeois – who was 18 at the time of the crime – was convicted Sept. 29 of first-degree murder in the July 19, 2007 slaying of Pulod Davlatnazarov, who was shot in the head at Limelite Liquor on LaBrea Avenue just south of Hollywood Boulevard.

Jurors found true the special circumstance allegations of murder during the course of an attempted robbery and murder during the course of a burglary, along with allegations that Bourgeois used a gun in the killing of the 39-year-old immigrant from Tajikistan.

Bourgeois also was found guilty of the attempted murder of a second store clerk, who was hospitalized for three months after being shot in the stomach, along with attempted second-degree robbery and second-degree burglary.

On April 8, the judge denied the defense's request for a new trial for Bourgeois, saying there was "overwhelming" evidence of the defendant's guilt, including the video.

"The murder is on good-quality video in which you can see the defendant's face," Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee told jurors during the trial, referring to the surveillance videotape.

The prosecutor noted that Bourgeois' DNA was found on a milk carton, and that the killer is seen on the video touching the milk carton before the shooting.

"Nothing can explain away the video with the defendant clearly visible and the defendant's DNA on the milk carton," Hanisee told jurors of the "robbery gone bad."

Defense attorney David Hizami had urged jurors to acquit his client of all charges, saying the issue was whether the person seen on the video was actually Bourgeois.

"When you watch that video, are you sure that the person you see is Mr. Bourgeois?" he asked jurors during his closing argument.

According to the defense attorney, the description of the suspect was 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 9 inches and 140-180 pounds, while his client was 5 feet 2 inches and 115 pounds at the time of his arrest.

Bourgeois was arrested just over a month after the crime, which was featured on the TV show "America's Most Wanted." He has been jailed since then.