SANTA ANA — A 48-year-old Lake Forest man was sentenced Friday to 25 years to life in prison for killing his ex-girlfriend with a tire iron in Irvine.

Omar Velazquezhuar was convicted Nov. 27 of first-degree murder in the killing of 48-year-old Dora Maria Rosas Moreno of Santa Ana, who was attacked Feb. 26, 2021, and taken to a hospital in critical condition. She died from her injuries on March 17, 2021.

But jurors, who deliberated for about three days, rejected a special circumstance allegation of murder by lying in wait.

Velazquezhuar and Moreno were together for 20 years and had two adult children. Moreno split from the defendant seven months prior to her death, Senior Deputy District Attorney Janine Madera said in closing arguments.

The victim worked as a nanny for an Irvine family and lived with them for several months during the pandemic. At the time she was killed, she had returned to the Santa Ana apartment she previously lived in with the defendant.

Five days before the victim was beaten to death, Velazquezhuar had dinner with his children at the apartment they all had lived in together. During the get-together, he noticed some home improvements and grew angry when he suspected his estranged partner’s new boyfriend was behind the changes, Madera said. Velazquezhuar took a hammer to the changes and left, she said.

Later that night, after their son drove his mother’s car to work at a local Walmart, he came back to the car to find the windows had been smashed in, Madera said.

The defendant testified he had been drinking and doing cocaine while taking his medication the night of the killing and found a tire iron in a bar parking lot, which he took with him to confront the victim.

Madera argued that the defendant had four days to calm down, but instead confronted his estranged partner and fractured her skull with the weapon.

“He finds out about the new boyfriend four days before the murder,” Madera said. “He had all of those days to cool off.”

Velazquezhuar even apologized for the vandalism and paid for the damage, she said.

Velazquezhuar knew where she worked and parked the car out of sight so she wouldn’t get a heads up he was there, Madera argued.

“He wants it all to happen quickly before she can respond,” Madera said in closing arguments. He arrived early to beat her to work, she added.

“He had to plan all of that,” she said in her argument for first- degree murder, which requires a showing of premeditation and deliberation.

“He ambushed the victim before she could get out of the car,” Madera said. “At some point she sees him and he has the metal pipe in his hand. … He hid his car to avoid giving her any warning. He stood and waited for the victim to arrive with the murder weapon in his hand.”

The prosecutor said, “All of the fatal blows were to the back of the victim’s head.”

Despite the defendant’s inebriation, he was still clear-headed enough to call his clients and cancel appointments so he could carry out the attack, Madera argued.

“There was absolutely no provocation at the scene of the murder,” she argued. “Even if you believe his story that she said, `get out of here I don’t want to talk to you,’ that’s no provocation.”

The victim had made it clear several times previously she wasn’t interested in hashing things out, Madera said.

Madera argued that the defendant grabbed the victim as she got out of her car and pulled her back in. As the victim attempted to get away by crawling out through the passenger’s side, he pulled her back in and beat her over the head with the metal pole, Madera argued.

Defense attorney Paul Rogers of the Orange County Public Defender’s Office argued that it was unlikely any planning went into the killing because it was done about 7 a.m. in a heavily congested, quiet neighborhood. He also said it would have made more sense to confront the victim after she got out of the car instead of trying to chase her through the vehicle.

“His actions are not okay. They’re inexcusable,” Rogers said. “But your job is simply to assign the right crime for the conduct. Why do you think there are so many pictures of Dora with the birthday cake? They tell you they don’t want you to be emotional, but they’ll keep showing you pictures of her with the birthday cake. Their trying to confuse you with emotion is not justice.”

Rogers argued for lesser charges of second-degree murder or manslaughter because he said the killing was done in the heat of the moment.

“He chose the dumbest weapon in the world,” Rogers said of the tire iron.

If he intended to kill the victim and wanted to get away with it, he shouldn’t have brought his phone with him because investigators can use records to trace your steps with the devices, Rogers said.

“He brings his phone with him. That’s pretty dumb,” Rogers said.

Rogers faulted Irvine police for not following up multiple leads to back up or refute evidence of planning the attack.

“They didn’t really do any investigation on the phone. That was obvious,” Rogers said. “You want to say Dora was afraid of him. Show me that message. Any threats anywhere.”

Their son saved his text messages, Rogers said.

“I read them,” he said. “I guarantee you they have not.”

Police did not do a blood draw on the suspect to test his claim that he was intoxicated, Rogers said.

“How am I supposed to go back and do a blood draw on that?” he said.

Police did not attempt to get surveillance video from the bar the defendant was at that night or interview anyone who was there, Rogers argued.

Anyone experiencing or at risk of domestic violence can obtain help by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.

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