A convicted rapist and robber accused of sexually assaulting and murdering a 19-year-old woman in 1992, leaving her severely beaten body in an Irvine orange grove, has been extradited to Orange County from Mexico, prosecutors said.
Leonardo Pimentel Sanchez, 56, has been charged with one felony count of murder during the commission of rape, and has two prior felony strike convictions for a 1978 robbery and 1984 rape, according to a statement from the Orange County district attorney's office.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole, prosecutors said.
Sanchez, a resident of Mexico City, was arrested in Tijuana in November for causing a disturbance in a business, and Mexican authorities alerted the Orange County sheriff's department they had Sanchez in custody, prosecutors said. He was extradited to Orange County earlier this week, and his arraignment was scheduled for Thursday.
Prosecutors allege that between March 16 and March 19, 1992, Sanchez raped and killed Cari Ann Parnes in an Irvine orange grove. Field workers found her decomposing body days later.
Prosecutors said a DNA sample from the perpetrator was collected from the victim's body, but no match was able to be made.
In 2000, Orange County sheriff's investigators were able to connect Sanchez to the case through DNA. At the time of the DNA hit, prosecutors said Sanchez allegedly had 27 aliases, 12 different dates of birth and five driver's licenses. After that, authorities here issued an arrest warrant for him.
Rojas writes for the Los Angeles Times.