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Brothers guilty of murder

Separate juries convict Christopher and Ralph Rosas, both of Canyon Country, in brutal 2006 slaying

Posted: April 30, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 30, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

Brothers Christopher and Ralph Rosas, both of Canyon Country, were found guilty of murder this week for stabbing and bludgeoning to death Chris Rosas’ business partner inside the Canyon Country bar they owned together.

A San Fernando Superior Court jury found 50-year-old Christopher Rosas guilty of first-degree murder on Friday. The day before, a separate jury in the same courthouse found Ralph Rosas, 48, guilty of the same crime. The judge sealed Ralph Rosas’ verdict until his brother’s verdict was also released.

The Rosas brothers were convicted of slaying Louis Alexander Campanelli at Mugsy’s Bar five years ago.

Two detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department never gave up on the Campanelli case, even though it hit a snag in the early days of the investigation.

“The case was rejected in March 2006,” said Detective Steve Lankford of the Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau, who was in court Friday when the verdict was delivered. “But my partner (Sgt. Jeff Cochran) and I never gave up on it. We continued to work this case.”

When the two had gathered evidence they believed was sufficient to make a legal case against the brothers, they returned to the District Attorney’s office, approached detectives in the Major Crimes Unit and, later, Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman.

“She took the case and eventually filed murder warrants,” Lankford said. “She’s relentless, very aggressive and a hard worker. She saw this case the way we saw it.”

Confessed the slaying
The turning point in the murder investigation came after it was first rejected.

The brothers wrongly thought that since they had been released from custody, they were somehow untouchable.
“Ralph believed in his twisted mind that it was a case of double jeopardy, so he thought we couldn’t do anything to him,” Lankford said.

“He would tell people how he and his brother stabbed the victim and how they smashed the victim’s head in, providing details on how they committed the murder.

“That it made it easy for us.”

Warrants were issued for their arrests in August 2008.

Each had been charged with first-degree murder with a special circumstance of lying in wait, as well as assault with a deadly weapon.

The brothers are expected to be sentenced on two separate days next month.

Mugsy’s Bar

Mugsy’s Bar opened in November 2005 in the Soledad Plaza Shopping Center. Campanelli and Christopher Rosas each invested $35,000 to open the bar.

But by February 2006, the owners were already three months behind on their lease.

Ralph Rosas offered to buy Campanelli’s stake in the bar for $40,000 so the brothers could run Mugsy’s together. But Campanelli refused.

On the night of Feb. 25, the Rosas brothers ransacked the bar and smashed an ATM machine to make it look like Campanelli was killed during a robbery, said Lankford.

Later that night, Campanelli was stabbed multiple times with two knives that were found near his body.

As he lay on the ground, the brothers crushed Campanelli’s skull with a fire extinguisher, and then discharged the extinguisher in his face, according to trial testimony.

Campanelli suffered a long, painful death, Lankford said. His skull was fractured, and he choked on his own blood as he died.

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