Hearing to decide status of man accused in Abdullah Alkadi’s death

Witnesses who took the stand for the prosecution and defense during a roughly five-hour hearing on Thursday revealed for the first time details about CSUN student Abdullah Alkadi’s death and the arrest of the man accused of killing him.

The preliminary hearing at the Los Angeles Superior Court San Fernando Courthouse will determine if Agustin Rosendo Fernandez will stand trial for the murder of Alkadi, who was 23 at the time of his death.

The defendant is charged with one count of murder with special circumstances of murder during a robbery and murder during a carjacking. If convicted, Fernandez could face the death penalty.

Fernandez is accused of killing the Saudi-born electrical engineering international student on Sept. 17, 2014, after meeting him to buy his Audi S5 for $36,500. Alkadi had posted the car for sale on Craigslist.

According to transcripts of a roughly 12-hour interview Fernandez gave to police, the defendant struck Alkadi and stabbed him to death while the defendant was driving the Audi near the student’s home in Northridge.

Prosecutors allege that Fernandez posed as a buyer and was attempting to keep the car and sale money.

It was not revealed, however, if the killing occurred before or after the sale or why Fernandez was driving the Audi.

Additionally, prosecutors assert that Fernandez then drove to the Palm Springs area and placed Alkadi’s body next to Interstate 10 near the Cook Street exit.

Witness Frank Flores, a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department Robbery/Homicide Division, said Fernandez admitted to the killing during the later part of the interview.

Alkadi’s body was discovered on Oct. 16, 2014, after Fernandez led authorities to the location of the body. He was arrested a short time later.

It was not clear how many interviews Fernandez gave before admitting to the murder and leading detectives to the location of the body.

Flores said Fernandez came to LAPD headquarters in downtown L.A. voluntarily. Fernandez had been called in for questioning after police worked several leads on who Alkadi was meeting to buy the car.

After his disappearance, authorities speculated that Alkadi may have been kidnapped. Authorities said his status as a Middle Eastern international student could have made Alkadi a target for kidnapping.

Justine M. Esack, the deputy public defender representing Fernandez, asked Flores if the police department had ever considered the CSUN student’s case to be a kidnapping.

“There was always the potential that it was a kidnapping,” Flores responded. “We were open to that.”

Alkadi’s brother Ahmed reported the CSUN student missing on Sept. 18, 2014. Flores described Alkadi’s family as “tight-knit.”

Witness Leticia Schuman, the Riverside County Coroner’s Office forensic pathologist who conducted Alkadi’s autopsy, said the student sustained numerous stab wounds to his chest and ribs. He also sustained cuts to his forehead and left cheek.

Alkadi’s body was in an advanced state of decomposition when it was found. The cause of death was determined to be caused by multiple sharp force injuries to the chest, Schuman said.

Alec Scott Rose, an attorney representing Alkadi’s family, said the family would have no comment on the hearing or case.

Fernandez wore a headset to listen to the hearing through a Spanish-speaking interpreter. Wearing a blue L.A. County Jail jumpsuit, Fernandez sat handcuffed with his hands in front of him. His gaze shifted back and forth between the witness on the stand and his public defender.

The court will call more witnesses to the stand beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 4.