Former Marine Convicted of Murder Loses Latest Appeal

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A state appellate court panel Thursday rejected the latest appeal filed on behalf of one of three former Marines convicted in the slaying of a man in Long Beach during an apparent dispute over a drug deal nearly 15 years ago.

The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal found that the record supports the trial court’s implicit factual finding that Trevor Glenn Landers “manipulated a brain-damaged veteran into burglarizing and shooting defendant’s cocaine dealer by suggesting a motive to shoot the dealer, lamenting about not having a gun, and repeatedly telling the veteran that the goal was to kill the dealer rather than scare or maim him.”

Landers and his cousin, Anthony Vigeant — who were stationed at Camp Pendleton at the time — were convicted of first-degree murder for the Sept. 9, 2007, shooting death of David Pettigrew.

Co-defendant Ramon Hernandez, also a fellow Marine at the time, pleaded guilty to murder, admitted that he personally used a firearm during the crime and testified against Vigeant and Landers.

Pettigrew was killed as a result of an apparent drug deal in which Vigeant’s laptop computer had been put up as collateral or payment for cocaine that was not delivered, according to investigators.

All three men were sentenced in 2009 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Landers had unsuccessfully asked to be re-sentenced under a recent change in state law that affects defendants in some murder cases, then appealed Superior Court Judge Judith L. Meyer’s denial of his petition.

In its 15-page ruling, the appellate court panel noted that Landers and his cousin befriended Hernandez, a fellow Marine who told them about the injuries he sustained during his second tour of duty in Iraq and told him soon afterward that they had a problem with Pettigrew.

The justices found that Landers confirmed multiple times during the night that he wanted Pettigrew to be killed, was present at the scene of the murder and knew Hernandez was armed with a gun.

The appellate court panel concluded that “defendant was a major participant in the underlying crimes and acted with reckless indifference to human life.”

In 2011, a state appeals court panel rejected the defense’s contention that there was insufficient evidence to support the convictions of Landers and Vigeant. The California Supreme Court subsequently refused to hear the case against the two.

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