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Death penalty sought in attack on family

SANTA ANA, Calif., March 4 (UPI) -- California prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty for a Muslim Indian national who allegedly killed two relatives of his Hindu ex-girlfriend.

Iftekhar Murtaza, 25, of Van Nuys, is charged in Orange County with killing his ex's father and sister and nearly killing the girl's mother as well.

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The Orange County District Attorney's office said in a written statement late Wednesday that Murtaza allegedly enlisted the aid of two other Los Angeles-area men to help him carry out the 2007 homicides at the victims' home in Anaheim Hills.

Investigators say Murtaza was allegedly enraged at the victims because he believed they had pressured 18-year-old college student Shayona Dhanak into breaking off their two-year relationship. Dhanak and her family were practicing Hindus while Murtaza was a non-practicing Muslim.

Murtaza and his two cohorts are accused of entering the home, repeatedly stabbing the victims and then setting the house on fire. They were interrupted while allegedly loading the victims into a van by a neighbor who flagged down a police car.

All three are charged with multiple special circumstances. Murtaza was scheduled for a pre-trial hearing March 5.

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