Vicki Ghonim was shot dead in front of her husband and baby son, but it would be over 20 years before the terrible truth about her murder would be revealed, Diabolical examines the case.
La Mirada, Cal., on July 23, 1992, and 19-year-old Morrad Ghonim, his wife Vicki, 17, and their six month old baby were just leaving a local park in their car after a walk. As they drove out of parking lot a man shot his wife repeatedly in the head. Ghonim sped through red lights as he rushed his dying wife to hospital, with police pulling him over as he tried in vain to save her.
When he was interviewed Ghonim said they often went to the park as they’d often gone their in secret when courting. Some men catcalled his wife and she gave back as good as she got, whereupon Ghonim thought it was wise to leave. He explained to police that the shooter had been hiding in some bushes so he never got a good look at who shot his wife.
Police did find some clothing in the park that a witness had seen a man wearing who was jogging near the time of the shooting, but they were never able to trace the owner and the case soon went cold.
It went cold for over 20 years with Ghonim going on to remarry and have five children, raising his son with Vicki as part of the new family.
Meantime, some grant money had allowed the police department to reopen old cases and they ran some new DNA tests on the clothing found in the park. This matched Leon Martinez, who was in prison for burglary and police questioned him about the shooting. He initially tried to blame someone else for the murder but eventually confessed.
This was where the most shocking twist in the case occurred, with Martinez explaining that it was not a robbery gone wrong or a botched carjacking, instead it was a hit. Morrad Ghonim had hired Martinez for $20,000 to kill his wife and make it look like a robbery.
Ghonim was arrested in Antigua and extradited back to the US where he was charged with his wife’s murder. During the subsequent trial Martinez described how he repeatedly shot Vicki in the head as she pleaded for her son’s life, finishing her off by shooting her in the eyes.
Ghonim then handed him over the money in an envelope, reaching across his dead wife to give it to the man he’d hired to kill her. This action in particular was highlighted by the prosecution as showing just how calculated and cold Ghonim was in planning the murder of his high school sweetheart.
Martinez’s testimony was part of a deal in exchange for testifying against Ghonim that saw him get 28 years to life in prison, instead of life with no chance of parole.
In 2016 Ghonim was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. His appeal in March 2018 was rejected by the court and his conviction was upheld.
Diabolical – Family or Foe airs at 10:00 PM on Investigation Discovery.