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Understanding the Fabio Sementilli Capital Murder Trial
In January, Fabio Sementilli was found stabbed to death and beaten on the patio of his home in the 5000 block of Queen Victoria Road in Woodland Hills. Most of the knife wounds were to his neck and upper body. Fabio, 49, a Canadian born resident of Woodland Hills, worked for decades as a trendsetting hair stylist and served as vice president of education for the beauty products company Coty, Inc. Fabio 2008 Porsche 911 Carrera was also stolen and then found a few days later just 5 miles from his home. The police thought at first that this death occurred during a home invasion robbery when Fabio was home alone. They said video surveillance of two men in all black clothes jogging by the home. However, after the police completed their investigation they discovered that this was not the case. They came to the realization that this was, in fact, a murder. Not only did they discover it was what they think is murder, but that his wife, Monica Sonia Sementilli is involved with the crime. It is stated that her long time love affair, Robert Louis Baker, was one of the men who actually killed Fabio. Baker is suspected of breaking into Fabio’s home and then fatally stabbing the victim, according to the D.A. Baker is also suspected of stealing Fabio’s Porsche. Authorities said it appears that Monica is the mastermind behind the whole crime. Police believe the motive was Sementilli’s $1.6 million life insurance policy. They also said Baker and Monica were having an affair for a little more than a year. Baker also has a prior police record and is a registered sex offender. Both Baker and Monica are being held without bail and their arraignment hearing is scheduled for June 29. Detectives are also looking for a third suspect, described as a man with a stocky build, standing between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 7 inches tall. He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt at the time of the murder. If Baker and Monica are convicted as charged, they face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. The decision to seek the death penalty will be made at a later date, according to the D.A. in his interview with the news.
The question we will look at is why can Monica Sonia Sementil be charged with the murder if she did not commit the act? Because she did not actually do the crime we will discuss aiding and abetting which is the same as an accomplice. In addition to that, we will also look at the conspirator laws.
The first crime we will look to see if it is applicable to Ms. Sementil is aiding and abetting to murder. The legal definition to aiding and abetting is spelled out as all persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether it be felony or misdemeanor, and whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense, or aid and abet in its commission, or, not being present, have advised and encouraged its commission, and all persons counseling, advising, or encouraging children under the age of fourteen years, or persons who are mentally incapacitated, to commit any crime, or who, by fraud, contrivance, or force, occasion the drunkenness of another for the purpose of causing him to commit any crime, or who, by threats, menaces, command, or coercion, compel another to commit any crime, are principals in any crime so committed. California Penal Code 31. This is a very dense statute and can be convoluted. But the essence of the crime is that anyone who is involved with a crime who helps in the slightest or encourages the crime is liable for the crime.
The California jury instructions help us understand by further breaking aiding and abetting into elements. A person aids and abets the commission or attempted commission of a crime when he or she: (1) With knowledge of the unlawful purpose of the perpetrator, and (2) With the intent or purpose of committing or encouraging or facilitating the commission of the crime, and (3) By act or advice, aids, promotes, encourages or instigates the commission of the crime. A person who aids and abets the commission or attempted commission of a crime need not be present at the scene of the crime. California Jury Instructions Criminal CALJIC 3.01. Here, Ms. Sementil has alleged planned the murder of her late husband, Fabio. If this allegation is true then she would have knowledge of the unlawful acts that would eventually occur. If this is the case then the first element is meant. The Prosecution can show this by text message, phone calls or any other forms of communication possibly. Ms. Sementil may claim that she had no idea and that Mr. Baker killed Fabio because he was jealous of his and Ms. Sementil relationship. But this will have to be proven by the state in order to fulfill the first element. It would also have to be shown that Ms. Sementil had the specific intent for this crime to occur. This is what the news article somewhat alluded to when they talk about the $1.6 million dollar life insurance policy that was placed on Fabio. This is what the motive was and the Ms. Sementil and Baker had the intent to kill him for this reason. It also can be inferred by the fact that Fabio was stabbed in the neck multiple times because that is a vital body part that a deadly weapon, the knife, was used upon. The last part of advising and abetting is whether Ms. Sementil acted or advised, aided, promoted, encouraged instigates the commission of the crime. With limited facts we do not know whether this is true. But encourage could be as simple as Ms. Sementil telling Mr. Baker that if he did this they could take the money and run off together or be more public with their relationship. Once again because of the limited facts we are unsure but there us a strong possibility that Ms. Sementil could have been an accomplice to her late husband, Fabio’s murder.
The punishment for aiding and abetting are as follows, each individual convicted of aiding and abetting under the California Penal Code will be regarded as a “principal” to the crime and is subject to the same penalties and consequences as if they personally committed the offense. The only exception to this rule applies to murder prosecutions, discussed in the next section. This is why Ms. Sementil would be guilty for the murder of Fabio.
Now we will look at whether there may be a conspiracy charge that could be applicable to Ms. Sementil. A conspiracy is when two or more persons conspire: (1) To commit any crime. (2) Falsely and maliciously to indict another for any crime, or to procure another to be charged or arrested for any crime. An overt act is kind of tricky so for further understanding we look to case law which states that Supreme Court held that “acts committed by conspirators subsequent to the completion of the crime which is the primary object of a conspiracy cannot be deemed to be overt acts in furtherance of that conspiracy.” Requiring that the overt act precedes a commission of the crime is consistent with the controlling statutory language. An agreement becomes punishable only upon the doing of an act “to effect” the object of the agreement. (§ 184.) The object of a punishable conspiracy is commission of a crime. (§ 182, subd. (a)(1).) The verb “to effect” means “to bring about; produce as a result; cause; accomplish.” People v. Brown 226 Cal.App.3d 1361, 1368. There are two parties and from the article, it seems like there is actually three Which fulfills that part of the conspiracy charge. Their crime was the murder of Fabio, which did occur. The state would have to look for an agreement as motioned above through phone or any other communications that may show that this crime was planned between the parties. This would also fulfill the tricky part of an overt act, because the crime did happen the overt act would be a given. This could have been as simple as buying a weapon for the crime. In addition, they did have an agreement. This would show that there would be a strong likelihood that there is a possible conspiracy.
The punishment for conspiracy is stated as Members of a conspiracy are criminally responsible for all of the crimes that are committed by any of the co-conspirators if they are committed in furtherance of the conspiracy. This is the case even if some of the members are not aware of the other crimes. In addition, it is not at all uncommon for a defendant to be convicted of the conspiracy but acquitted of the underlying crime. It bears repeating that the conspiracy and the crime that is the subject of the conspiracy are completely separate you can be convicted or acquitted of one or both. This is how Ms. Sementil can be held liable for the murder of Fabio.
Therefore, even though Ms. Sementil did not personally kill Fabio she can be guilty of murder if she is found guilty of aiding and abetting or conspiracy.
If you have questions about the criminal process, feel free to contact San Diego Criminal Lawyer Vik Monder at 619-405-0063 or visit San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer