Murtaza went with two friends to the family's home, where Shayona Dhanak's father, Jayprakash, was stabbed and held in a bathroom while the trio waited for other family members to arrive, officials said. Leela Dhanak and Shayona's sister, Karishma, arrived later that night and also were attacked. The assailants then doused the house with gasoline, set it on fire and took the family members to a waiting van. A neighbor noticed the flames and alerted a nearby police officer. Officials found Leela Dhanak unconscious on a neighbor's lawn, but the attackers took the two other family members with them.
Jayprakash and Karishma were killed near a bike trail in Mason Regional Park in Irvine and their bodies were set on fire.
Murtaza was convicted in November 2013 of two felony counts of murder, one felony count of attempted murder and one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder, plus sentencing enhancements for multiple murders and murder during the commission of kidnapping.
After a jury determined that Murtaza should receive the death penalty,he hired new legal counsel,requiring more than a year in delays for the sentencing. In recent weeks,Murtaza’s attorney made a series of last-minute legal efforts claiming that new evidence and witnesses could exonerate his client,but to no avail.