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Murder charges filed in shotgun slaying of MTV producer in L.A.

By Michael Martinez and Sarah Flanigan, CNN
Gabriel Ben-Meir worked on several MTV shows, including "Punk'd" and "Nitro Circus."
Gabriel Ben-Meir worked on several MTV shows, including "Punk'd" and "Nitro Circus."
  • A 29-year-old woman is charged with murder in two shotgun slayings
  • Two alleged male accomplices are charged with robbery
  • MTV music coordinator Gabriel Ben-Meir was shot in the head Sunday
  • Authorities are also investigating the two male accomplices in the two killings

Los Angeles (CNN) -- A 29-year-old Los Angeles woman was charged with murder Friday and her two accused male accomplices were charged with robbery in a shotgun crime spree that allegedly resulted in the execution-style slaying of an MTV producer, authorities said.

In all, the spree amounted to 10 robberies and two homicides over 11 days in the densely populated mid-town area of Los Angeles, police said.

One of the homicide victims was 30-year-old MTV music coordinator Gabriel Ben-Meir, who was killed by a shotgun blast to the head in the early morning hours Sunday after parking his car outside his apartment, police said.

Ben-Meir worked on several MTV shows, including "Punk'd" and "Nitro Circus." He came from an entertainment family.

The three suspects were believed to have been living or spending time in an area just a couple of miles from where the crimes occurred, police said.

The crimes were considered unusual because the suspects used a shotgun, a rarely used weapon, and they were robbing targets such as two donut stores, a liquor store, or an individual walking alone at night -- which didn't promise big financial payoffs for the criminals, police said.

The other homicide victim was Marcelo Aragon, 35, who was killed on April 30, authorities said.

In addition to two counts of murder, the female suspect, Destiny Young, 29, of Los Angeles was also charged with five counts of second-degree robbery, prosecutors said.

Richard Edward Anderson, 33, of Reseda, California, was charged with six counts of second-degree robbery, prosecutors said.

Jabaar Vincent Thomas, 26, of Los Angeles was charged with three counts of second-degree robbery and one count of being a felon in possession of a handgun. Thomas is a convicted felon who was paroled in December, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told reporters at a press conference Friday.

Police are still investigating what role Thomas and Anderson may have played in the two killings, Beck said.

The big break in the case came Wednesday when Wilshire Area Senior Lead Officer Spiro Roditis observed a vehicle matching the description of one used in the shotgun robbery of a liquor store five days earlier, police said. The officer saw the car passing him on the other side of the street and then stopped it, police said.

Inside the car were Thomas and Young, Beck said. Anderson was arrested later Wednesday in south Los Angeles, Beck said.

"Although charged as a potential capital case, the District Attorney's office will not make a decision on whether to seek death or life without parole for Young until the matter moves closer to trial," Shiara Davila-Morales, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, said in a statement.

Police declined to release photographs of the three because those photos still need to be shown to witnesses to confirm identification of the suspects in the remaining robberies, Beck told reporters.

Beck declined to state who pulled the trigger in the two shotgun slayings.

"You can be an accessory. You can be the driver or you can be the lookout" and still be charged with murder, Beck told reporters.

"I am sure that there was nothing that these victims did that would warrant a homicide," Beck said.

"As pleased as we are to see that these suspects are in custody, the hearts of all the Los Angeles Police Department go out to the families of Marcelo Aragon and Gabriel Aron Ben-Meir, the two innocent victims in this senseless series," Beck said. "We are profoundly sorry for the loss of these families and will do everything in our power to bring to justice those that perpetrated these heinous crimes."

Police were able to get a videotape of the suspects' vehicle, an early 1990s blue Crown Victoria, from a May 6 robbery of a liquor store, said Andrew Smith, Los Angeles police assistant commanding officer of operations for the west bureau.

"When you're robbing people when they are walking home at night, it's just low-end crimes of opportunities by evil perpetrators," Smith said.

The Ben-Meir family released a statement through the police chief in which they expressed their "deep appreciation to the LAPD for their extraordinary efforts" leading to the arrests, according to the statement.

"The family would appreciate everyone's understanding of their desire for privacy while they mourn the loss of a son and brother and celebrate the memory of his life," the statement said.

It was not immediately known Friday whether the three suspects had retained attorneys.