Melony SmithAge 26
9 Sep 2013
Baldwin Park, California (USA)
TDoR list ref: tgeu/9-Sep-2013/Melony Smith
Melony was found beaten to death in a motel room at about 1:30 p.m. on 9th September. Stephen Gonzales, 28, was charged with murder and robbery.
Detectives Thursday identified Stephen Gonzales, 28, of West Covina as a suspect in the slaying. Lt. David Coleman of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. Gonzales, who was already in jail following a drug possession Wednesday, was expected to appear in Pomona Superior Court Tuesday.
The relationship, if any, between Gonzales and Smith was unknown to both friends and investigators. A specific motive has not been released, however court documents show he was charged Monday with robbery, in addition to murder.
Gonzales was convicted in January 2016 and sentenced to 25 years to life.
“The evidence clearly showed how the gruesome murder took place. The deferent bashed in her head with a boombox radio knocking her out then strangled her by tying a sheet around her neck and choking her to death.”
“Once the defense attorney began her closing it was apparent to everyone that she was going to try to convince people that Melony was the cause of her own death. She referred to her as a “man” and said things like “man dressed as a woman”.
Melony's body was discovered by her friend Leticia Alvarado, who works as a cashier at the motel where Smith had been staying on and off for more than three years:
“We became very close,” Alvarado said. “She called me sister. I was her sister.”
“Before I go to work, I always stop by her room and we have breakfast. That day she wouldn’t answer her phone.”
Alvarado sent she went to the room and asked a maid to open the door and saw Smith’s body lying on the floor.
“She was all bruised up. She had blood on her head. She was lifeless. I could tell she was dead.”
Investigators identified Gonzales as a suspect based on surveillance camera images and cell phone data, Coleman said.
Prosecutors charged Gonzales Friday with murder and robbery, according to a felony complaint filed in Pomona Superior Court. He was also accused of the special, sentence-enhancing allegation of committing murder during the course of a robbery.
Friends described Smith, who worked for a security company, as well-liked and mild-mannered.
“Everybody liked her at the hotel,” Alvarado said. She was very helpful to everyone. She was funny and outgoing.”
Though shy around strangers, “She was friendly to the people that she knew,” Alvarado added.
Vale said Smith had been saving up money for a car and was hoping to return to school to become a dental hygienist.
TvT project: SVG Tribune 09.12.2013 & Baldwin Park Patch 16.09.2013 & The Advocate 16.09.2013