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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Emigres Get Death for L.A. Killings

LOS ANGELES -- Two men from the former Soviet Union convicted in a kidnapping-for-ransom scheme targeting wealthy Russian immigrants that resulted in five killings were sentenced to death, nearly 5 1/2 years after authorities began finding bodies in a Northern California reservoir.

U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian on Monday formally sentenced Jurijus Kadamovas and Iouri Mikhel, whose jury voted for the death penalty last month. In federal death penalty cases, the jury's sentencing verdict is binding on the judge.

Tevrizian called the murders brutal, adding that in "the methods in which the individuals were killed, the perpetrators showed no mercy."

Kadamovas, 40, a Lithuanian immigrant, spoke at the first hearing, claiming he was denied a fair trial because one of his lawyers was not prepared for trial and he was not able to review all of the court documents.

Mikhel, meanwhile, did not attend his afternoon hearing. Instead, his lawyers claimed juror misconduct, saying the panel did not follow the judge's instructions.

Attorney Dale Rubin said outside court that the 41-year-old Russian immigrant did not help his case by refusing to appear at trial some days, wearing jail-issued clothes instead of a suit and making hand gestures. "We couldn't show the jury this was a human being instead of a murderous monster the prosecution made him out to be," Rubin said.