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Man pleads no contest to murdering prominent hairdresser, gets life in prison

Suspect in murder of famed hairdresser Fabio Sementelli pleads no contest
Suspect in murder of famed hairdresser Fabio Sementelli pleads no contest 04:00

A man indicted along with his alleged lover in the 2017 stabbing death of the woman's husband, a prominent hairdresser, at his Woodland Hills home pleaded no contest Friday to murder and conspiracy charges and was immediately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole.

Robert Louis Baker -- who had been awaiting trial in September along with co-defendant Monica Sementilli -- pleaded no contest to one count each of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. He also admitted the special circumstance allegations of murder for financial gain and murder while lying in wait.

Baker, now 61, and Sementilli, now 51, were indicted in August 2017 in the Jan. 23, 2017, killing of her 49-year-old husband, Fabio Sementilli.

"He got exactly what he deserved and we're only half done," Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said outside court after Baker's plea and sentencing.

One of Monica Sementilli's attorneys, Leonard Levine, told reporters after the hearing that the defense was confident that Baker's plea and his "truthful testimony will finally establish once and for all that Monica Sementilli had nothing to do with the planning or the murder of Fabio Sementilli, her husband. And we're looking forward to the trial, which we believe will establish that fact."

Baker's attorney said he does not know if his client is going to be called to testify in Monica Sementilli's trial.

"My client obviously exercised his constitutional right and I support his right to do that. It's not something done lightly ...," defense lawyer Michael Simmrin told reporters.

Family members told Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen that they have been devastated by Fabio Sementilli's death.

One of the couple's daughters, Gessica, said her father's memory will "live on forever," but said she and her sister, Isabella, will "continue to stand by our mother as we have for the last six years."

One of the victim's sisters, Loretta Picillo, said that Baker and Monica Sementilli "ruined our lives" and said she was repulsed by the fact that Monica Sementilli had "mourned with our family."

She said she is "haunted" by the terror of what happened and wondered how many times her brother had pleaded for mercy before being killed.

"I will never forgive you," Picillo said, directly addressing the defendant.

Another of the victim's sisters, Mirella Sementilli, told the judge that one of the most traumatic things was having to tell their sick mother that her loving son had been murdered in a spot he loved. She said she will make it her life's work to speak her brother's name and said he "will live forever in our hearts."

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 Friday magazine.

The prosecution alleges that the two conspired to kill her husband, with plans to obtain the husband's life insurance proceeds.

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 alleged 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.

Baker and the "unknown co-conspirator" allegedly saw Sementilli sitting on the back patio and attacked him from behind, with Baker allegedly cutting himself on his left index finger during the attack, according to the indictment.

Baker allegedly "went into the kitchen to wash off the victim's blood and destroy evidence, leaving his own blood behind" and attempted to stage a robbery and burglary in the master bedroom, the indictment alleged.

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 a Los Angeles Police Department detective several times to inquire why her husband's life insurance policy proceeds were being withheld, according to the indictment.

The victim was pronounced dead by paramedics who responded to his home in the 5000 block of Queen Victoria Road about 5 p.m. and found the Canadian-born stylist in a pool of blood in an outdoor patio area.

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.

Police said investigators believe Baker and Monica Sementilli had been having an affair for about a year and a half, and she stood to gain a sizeable benefit -- around $1.6 million -- from a life insurance policy on her husband.

The two were arrested by Los Angeles police in June 2017 and charged with murder, with a conspiracy charge subsequently being added against them. They were indicted just over two months later on the same charges.

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