A 31-year-old man who tried to crash into the home of reality TV personality Kylie Jenner home was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing two transients in Anaheim and a cell mate while awaiting trial.
Marvin Magallanes was convicted Aug. 25 of two counts of first-degree murder and a count of second-degree murder, with special-circumstance allegations of multiple murders. Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Menninger sentenced the defendant to consecutive terms of life without parole plus 17 years to life in prison.
Magallanes was convicted of second-degree murder for the July 3, 2017, killing of 27-year-od cellmate Danny Pham, who was just about to be released from jail on a joyriding conviction.
Magallanes was also convicted of the stabbing deaths of 52-year-old Onosai Tavita and 49-year-old Sabah Alsaad.
Tavita was killed about 2 a.m. Oct. 27, 2016, at 990 S. Euclid St. He was sleeping behind a restaurant when he was attacked. Alsaad was sleeping on a bus bench at 1200 S. Magnolia St. about 2:15 a.m. Jan. 27, 2017, when he was stabbed to death.
Menninger denied motions to dismiss and for a new trial filed by the defendant’s attorney, Michael Hill of the Orange County Public Defender’s Office. She said the motions were “novel and interesting” but not in conformity with state law.
Hill argued in the trial that due to Magallanes’s schizophrenia he falsely believed Jenner was directing him to kill the victims. Menninger noted that Magallanes had the option of pursuing a sanity defense that could have led to a commitment to a state mental health facility instead of prison, but that he refused.
Magallanes drove up to Jenner’s home on March 28, 2016, and April 13, 2016, and told security guards he was there to see the young model and reality television star. When he was denied entry, he tried to drive through the wood security gate arm, cracking it.
Magallanes pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vandalism on Oct. 26, 2016, and was sentenced to 10 days in county jail and placed on summary probation for a year, according to a spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Pham’s sister, Tina Wu, told Menninger how her brother’s death continues to haunt her family.
“To articulate the impact that this horrific crime has had on me is indescribable,” Wu said. “The death of my brother has affected my entire family, and has caused us all to live a life full of fear, stress and anxiety.”
She said the defendant is “selfish, disrespectful, brutal, violent and careless,” but that she is “praying” for him and is “working on forgiveness.”
Wu recalled how she cared for her younger sibling when he was born.
“I carried, bathed and changed his diapers,” she said. “I witnessed his first steps and when he lost a tooth. Just like most boys, he loved video games and sports. He enjoyed basketball and baseball. He loved eating American food and his favorite was an In-N-Out burger and fries animal style. He was always up for something new and even tried ice skating with the family as a fun activity.”
Menninger noted that surveillance video showed that Pham was attempting to punch the panic button in his cell as Magallanes strangled him. She said he killed the two transients “in cold blood.”
All three defendants were “randomly attacked for no apparent reason,” Menninger said.
Magallanes had a “pretty normal upbringing,” according to testimony from his mother and brother.
Magallanes had been sent back and forth from Orange County Jail to Patton State Hospital when he was found incompetent to assist in his defense. He has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, with some experts saying he was experiencing auditory hallucinations, according to court records.
A jail guard described the defendant as a “split personality,” with other family members describing the same phenomena with sudden mood changes and erratic behavior, according to court records. He believed he was communicating online with Jenner, although family members tried to alert him it was not real. His family told psychiatric experts that his issues began when he split up with his girlfriend from high school, who was the mother of his child.
Magallanes told police that when he was driving home one morning he spotted Alsaad sleeping on a bus bench, so he continued home to retrieve a kitchen knife, then drove back to that spot and attacked the victim, Deputy District Attorney Chris Alex said in court papers. Magallanes returned home, tossed the sweater he was wearing away and took a shower, Alex said.
Magallanes encountered Tavita in much the same way as he drove around for hours before seeing the victim and attacking him, Alex said. The victim sustained 11 stab wounds, four of them considered fatal.
According to a 2019 report from psychologist Michelle Vorwerk, the jail guard said Magallanes had an “alternative personality” of “Jimmy,” who had a “1,000-yard stare.”
Magallanes would ram his head at the wall of his cell for no apparent reason, according to the report.
As a child, Magallanes was “a normal and nice kid,” who was respectful, his mother told the psychologist.
After his relationship with his girlfriend fell apart his mental health issues worsened and he began abusing alcohol, marijuana and Xanax, his family told the psychologist. While in custody he would refuse to eat, claiming he was being poisoned, according to the report.