INDIO, Calif. - Penalty verdicts will be read Thursday for two men convicted of carjacking, kidnapping, robbing and killing a 55-year-old Indio resident.
Daniel Cervantes, 35, and Carlos Contreras, 34, could both face the death penalty for the May 7, 2008, murder of Daniel Kuzawa. Jurors last month found true special circumstance allegations of murder in the commission of a robbery, kidnapping and carjacking, along with other crimes committed in the weeks before and after the killing.
Both defendants were tried together, but with separate juries. In the trial's penalty phase, the panels were tasked with recommending whether the defendants should be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Cervantes' jury started deliberating Tuesday, a day after Contreras' panel, and both juries reached verdicts on Wednesday, according to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office. Both penalty recommendations were sealed pending Thursday's 1:30 p.m. hearing.
Kuzawa was found by a field worker. He had been shot at close range in the head and chest on the dirt shoulder of Pierce Street south of Airport Boulevard. His wrists and neck were bound with electrical cable.
Deputy District Attorney Manny Bustamante said Cervantes held a gun on the victim while Contreras tied up Kuzawa in his own truck as he pleaded for his life.