Jury Convicts Indiana Man of Murdering his Mother in Grover Beach
Author: District Attorney's Office
10/21/2019 1:07:38 PM
This morning, a San Luis Obispo County Jury convicted Indiana resident Levente Laszlo Lazar (DOB:05/07/1992) of murdering his mother Athena Valentiny (64) in her Grover Beach home on October 24, 2018. Sentencing is scheduled for December 11, 2019 in Department 8 of the San Luis Obispo Superior Court.
District Attorney Dan Dow announced today that after several hours of deliberations, a San Luis Obispo County Jury returned a guilty verdict, finding Levente Laszlo Lazar (DOB:05/07/1992) of Indiana guilty of pre-meditated murder of his mother, Athena Valentiny (64) in her Grover Beach home one year ago this month. The jury also found true a special circumstances allegation that Lazar murdered his mother for financial gain, making this case eligible for a life term in prison without the possibility of parole.
“While we are deeply saddened by the senseless murder of Athena Valentiny, we are grateful to the jury for holding the perpetrator, her only son, responsible for the killing based on the totality of the evidence presented,” said District Attorney Dan Dow. “Let this verdict send a strong message that we will be relentless in our pursuit of justice and we will find those responsible, even when they attempt to conceal their tracks by various means including the use of technology.”
During the three week long jury trial, jurors heard testimony describing evidence that the defendant traveled to California from Indiana using a ‘burner phone’ to conceal his travel and that while traveling back to Indiana he searched on the internet for any news article about his mother’s murder – even before law enforcement had discovered that the victim was dead. Additionally, the jury heard evidence that the victim’s original will naming him as the beneficiary was found in Lazar’s Indiana home and that the defendant had inquired about the value of her property and estate within a few months prior to her death. Athena Velentiny was killed in her home by multiple stab wounds although no murder weapon was found at the scene. Her body was discovered on October 25, 2018 when law enforcement conducted a welfare check at her residence. The jury reached their verdict after a three week trial and on the first full day of deliberations.
This case was investigated by the Grover Beach Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorneys Kelly Manderino and Lindsey Bittner.
Sentencing is scheduled for December 11, 2019 in Department 8 of the San Luis Obispo Superior Court, Hon. Judge Matthew Guerrero presiding.
A copy of the charging document can be accessed here. A copy of the defendants booking photo can be found here.
Please contact Assistant District Attorney Eric J. Dobroth at 805.781.5819 with any questions.