Man loses bid for re-sentencing in wife’s murder-for-hire in Bixby Knolls

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A state appeals court panel has rejected a bid for re-sentencing by a man convicted of orchestrating the murder-for-hire of his estranged wife, who was killed as police were outside her Long Beach home to investigate a report of a prowler.

In a ruling Tuesday, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal found that a Superior Court judge “properly reviewed the available record of conviction, including our opinion affirming the conviction on direct appeal” to determine last June that Manfred Schockner was “ineligible for relief as a matter of law.”

The justices noted in their seven-page ruling that “Schockner’s record of conviction unquestionably established he was convicted of first- degree as an aider and abettor, a ground that remains valid” notwithstanding change in state law that allows for re-sentencing in some murder cases.

Schockner, now 80, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the Nov. 8, 2004, stabbing death of his estranged wife, Lynn, at the home she shared in the Bixby Knolls area with the couple’s son. 

The woman was killed on her back patio while police waited outside the front door for the 50-year-old woman to get a key to the back gate so they could investigate a neighbor’s call about a prowler.

Two other defendants were also convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life behind bars.

Nicholas Alexander Harvey, who was arrested at the scene after he jumped over a fence and into the path of waiting officers, told police he was offered $5,000 to kill the woman and stage a burglary.

Co-defendant Frankie Jaramillo acted as the middleman between Schockner and Harvey.

The appellate court panel noted that Schockner filed a petition for re-sentencing last June in which he alleged that his conviction was “based on false evidence and testimony” and contended that Jaramillo and Harvey had used him as “their scapegoat.”

In November 2010, a separate panel from the 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected Schockner’s claim that there were errors in his trial.

“The evidence demonstrating appellant’s guilt was overwhelming,” Acting Presiding Justice Fred Woods wrote on behalf of the panel in the 2010 ruling.

Woods wrote that “appellant had a motive for the murder,” noting that Schockner and his estranged wife were “in the middle of contentious legal separation proceedings” and that Schockner “made a number of incriminating statements indicating his involvement in the scheme to Jaramillo” during a meeting at a Long Beach restaurant.

“These oral admissions left little doubt that appellant was involved in Mrs. Schockner’s murder,” Woods wrote in the 2010 ruling.

During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes told jurors that Schockner wanted to avoid having to split at least $3.5 million with his estranged wife.

Along with the murder charge, jurors found true the special circumstance allegation that Lynn Schockner was murdered for financial gain.

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