‘It’s a victory for the family’

Man is found guilty of killing wife at L.A. bowling alley in 2008.

May 05, 2010|By Veronica Rocha

LOS ANGELES — A jury found a 39-year-old man guilty Tuesday of killing his wife in a Los Angeles bowling alley before attempting to kill several Glendale police officers during a two-hour standoff at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

A motionless Rene Munoz gazed straight ahead as a court clerk read off guilty verdicts for 14 counts related to the April 3, 2008, murder of Kelly Munoz, and the attempted murder and assault with a firearm charges against an officer.

“It’s a victory for the family,” Glendale Police Det. Keith Soboleski said.

Kelly Munoz was found shot to death outside a bowling alley on Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles about 8 p.m. Less than two hours later, Glassell Park residents called police reporting hearing a gunshot on the cemetery grounds on South Glendale Avenue.


Rene Munoz had gone to the cemetery because his father and grandfather were buried there, Deputy Dist. Atty. Marguerite Rizzo said.

Forest Lawn security then called Glendale police because they saw a suspicious car parked on the cemetery lawn.

During the standoff, Rene Munoz recorded his phone conversation with a friend in which he admitted to killing his wife, Soboleski said. In the same conversation, a gunshot could be heard as police approached his vehicle.

The officers — Glendale Police Officers Justin and John Darby, who are brothers, and Kelley Cook and Kyle Heinbechner — then radioed in that they had been fired at.

“We are lucky none of our guys were shot,” Soboleski said.

The officers had been patrolling in pairs during night shifts because a local gang had threatened to kill any Los Angeles or Glendale police officer in retaliation for one of their own being hit.

When the gunshot was fired in the Rene Munoz incident, police surrounded the cemetery, Soboleski said.

Officers got Munoz’s cell phone number and tried to negotiate with him.

After several hours of negotiation with Rene Munoz via his cell phone, he appeared to be giving up until he suddenly stepped on the accelerator and charged a police barricade in the cemetery, official said.

Officers fired shots at his Escalade, and it crashed into one of the patrol cars. Despite being shot in the head, Rene Munoz survived his injuries.

His sister, Magalay Munoz, said her brother still has the bullet lodged in his head.

His family outside the courtroom proclaimed his innocence, claiming that he loved his wife and wouldn’t have hurt her.

Magalay Munoz said her family will urge him to appeal his case. His attorney declined to comment.

He is scheduled to be sentenced July 29 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Rene Munoz faces multiple life sentences, Rizzo said.

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