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Man found guilty in Facebook murder case

Published On: Feb 20 2013 06:16:26 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 20 2013 06:28:00 PM CST

Riverside County Sheriff's Department


Manuel Edmundo Guzman Jr., 19, was found guilty Wednesday for the murder of bantamweight boxer Eddie Leal. Guzman was convicted of murder in the first degree with a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait. The jury found the special circumstance to be true.

Guzman created a fake Facebook profile under the persona of "Rebecca Santhiago." Guzman used photos of an east coast Internet model to create the fake profile. 

Based on evidence in the case, Guzman used the profile to lure in young men.

On May, 30, 2011, Guzman used the fake profile to successfully convince Leal, who was 23, of San Jacinto to meet "Rebecca Santhiago" at a park in the area of Ivy Crest Drive in San Jacinto. 

Around 2 a.m. on the day of the attack, Leal drove his Toyota Corolla to the 1900 block of Roanoke Street, near Ivy Crest Drive -- about 100 yards from Guzman's family residence. Shortly after arriving, the 23-year-old was shot five times in the back. He died at the scene.

Sheriff's detectives seized the defendant's home computer and confirmed that he was the person who had established the bogus Facebook account, according to the prosecution. A search of Leal's computer revealed he had been in contact with that fictitious person.

Leal, a lifelong San Jacinto resident, was an avid boxer who had been trained by his father and had just begun fighting professionally as a bantamweight.

Guzman was 17 at the time of the murder and is therefore not eligible for the death penalty. He instead faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Daniel DeLimon of the DA's Homicide Unit who described the murder as a "thrill kill."