LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – The wife of a prominent hairdresser and a convicted sex offender she was reportedly having an affair with pleaded not guilty Thursday to capital murder and conspiracy charges in his stabbing death at his Woodland Hills home in January.
The indictment, handed up Aug. 18 and unsealed last Friday, charges Monica Sementilli, 45, and Robert Louis Baker, 55, in the Jan. 23 killing of Fabio Sementilli.
Investigators suspect that Fabio Sementilli's $1.6 million life insurance policy was the motive in the killing.
The two already had been charged in June with the 49-year-old man's killing, with the indictment expected to allow the case to proceed to trial more quickly. The pair is due back in Los Angeles Superior Court downtown on Sept. 7 for a hearing on whether the grand jury transcript should remain sealed.
Sementilli and Baker were believed to have carried on an affair for about 18 months prior to Fabio's killing, Los Angeles police said.
Baker is a registered sex offender. In 1993 he was convicted in Long Beach for lewd and lascivious acts with a minor, Hayes said.
Fabio Sementilli was found dead Jan. 23 on the back patio of his home in the 5000 block of Queen Victoria Road. He had been stabbed several times in the face, neck and upper body, police said. His 2008 Porsche 911 Carrera was also missing.
Investigators believe that Baker and another man — who currently remains at large — carried out the murder, which was orchestrated by Monica. Two men, one of whom is believed to be Baker, were seen running from the home on the night of the killing, police said.
Monica and Fabio were still married and living together at the time of his death, police said. Three days prior to her June 14 arrest, Monica accepted a lifetime achievement award on her deceased husband's behalf.
The murder charge includes the special circumstance allegations of murder for financial gain and murder by means of lying in wait. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Monica Sementilli and Baker.
The conspiracy charge lays out details of the prosecution's case against the two, with the indictment alleging that the pair agreed to kill her husband and planned to obtain her husband's life insurance proceeds after the killing.
The two allegedly "communicated via cell phones and encrypted communication applications regarding their plan to kill victim Fabio Sementilli" and Baker allegedly "solicited an unknown co-conspirator to assist him in killing victim Fabio Sementilli," according to the indictment.
The indictment alleges that Monica Sementilli forwarded an e-mail to Baker about how to access her home video surveillance system, notified him that her husband would be alone on the afternoon of Jan. 23 and then left to go shopping to establish an alibi for the time of her husband's killing.
Monica Sementilli allegedly waited for her youngest daughter to arrive home to find her father's body before returning to their home, and subsequently called an LAPD detective several times to inquire why her husband's life insurance policy proceeds were being withheld, according to the indictment.
Homicide detectives determined that Sementilli had been stabbed several times in the neck and upper body. The victim's black 2008 Porsche 911 Carrera, which had paper plates, was missing.
The car was allegedly parked by Baker on Califa Street in Woodland Hills four hours after the killing, according to the indictment.
Fabio Sementilli was an established hairdresser who served as vice president of education for Wella, the salon professional division of Procter and Gamble, according to Salon Thursday magazine.
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