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Crime

February 6, 2013
 

Westminster man arrested in 2004 murder of his wife

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The following information was released by the Orange County District Attorney.

A former respiratory therapist facing felony domestic violence charges has been arrested and charged with the 2004 solicitation to murder his wife prior to trial to avoid paying divorce costs and losing his medical license from a felony conviction. Magdi Girgis, 60, Westminster, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder, one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder, and one felony count of false imprisonment by violence, and sentencing enhancements for murder for financial gain and murder to prevent testimony. If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole and is eligible for the death penalty. Girgis is being held without bail and is scheduled for continued arraignment March 15, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Girgis was arrested Feb. 1, 2013, by the Westminster Police Department (WPD), who investigated this case. Senior Deputy District Attorney Sonia Balleste of the Orange County District Attorney’s Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Case background

Prior to the murder, Magdi Girgis is accused of having a pending domestic violence case against him related to assaulting his wife, 55-year-old Ariet Girgis. A restraining order was issued, Ariet Girgis intended to divorce the defendant, and Magdi Girgis is accused of moving out of the couple’s Westminster home.

The defendant, then a respiratory therapist, is accused of planning to murder the victim because he wanted to avoid the cost of a divorce and did not want to lose his medical license by receiving a felony conviction. As a result, Magdi Girgis is accused of soliciting at least one person to murder his wife.

A few days prior to Sept. 24, 2004, Ariet Girgis testified in a preliminary hearing in the domestic violence case.

In the early morning hours of Sept. 24, 2004, at least two suspects are accused of entering Ariet Girgis’ home on Plum Street. Ariet Girgis and her 17-year-old son Ryan were the only family members at home. One suspect is accused of binding and gagging Ryan and forcing him into a closet. At least one suspect is accused of murdering Ariet Girgis in her bedroom using a sharp object. The suspects then fled the scene.

After several minutes, Ryan heard a car drive away from the house, broke free of his ties, and immediately reported the incident to WPD. Officers responded to the 911 call and discovered Ariet Girgis had been murdered.

Magdi Girgis was convicted in the domestic violence case after the murder of Ariet Girgis (Case #04WF0321).

Investigation and reward

Magdi Girgis is accused of being a suspect in the murder at the time of the crime, and the investigation has been ongoing. A tremendous amount of time, resources, and effort have been invested in this case due to its complex nature. On Feb. 1, 2013, WPD detectives arrested Magdi Girgis without incident.

The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are imminent. Additional suspects have been identified, but their identities are not being released at this time due to the ongoing investigation.

A $50,000 reward is offered by the California Governor’s office, plus an additional $5,000 pledged by The Carol Sund/Carrington Foundation, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect(s) in this case.

Anyone with additional information related to this incident is asked to contact WPD at 714-898-3315, Supervising District Attorney Investigator Randy Litwin at 714-347-8492, or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS or online at www.occrimestoppers.org.

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