California Supreme Court upholds murder conviction of gold trader

April 3 (UPI) -- The California Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of the former owner of a gold-trading firm who argued there were errors in his original death penalty trial.

James Michael Fayed, 57, was found guilty in 2011 of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the 2008 death of his estranged wife, Pamela Fayed, 44.


Three men paid by James Fayed stabbed her to death in the parking garage of a Century City, Calif., office building. She had just left her lawyer's office.

The Fayeds ran two companies together -- Goldfinger Coin and Bullion Sales -- and a related online gold-trading company, E-Bullion. A judge had been scheduled to hear arguments on Pamela Fayed's request to have the business treated as a separate entity in their divorce because she feared her husband was trying to conceal assets.

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Both were under investigation for allegedly laundering money for Ponzi schemes through their e-currency business.

The three men who carried out the slaying were also convicted in Pamela Fayed's death.

James Fayed's lawyers sought to have his murder conviction overturned on multiple grounds, including that a secretly recorded conversation he had while in jail on different charges shouldn't have been admitted as evidence. He said the recording violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel.


The court on Tuesday refused the argument, saying the right to counsel is only applicable after a defendant is charged.

Though James Fayed was sentenced to death, that punishment was put on hold in March 2019 after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an indefinite moratorium on capital punishment in the state.

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