An Orange County-based financial adviser was ordered to stand trial in the 2008 slaying of a Russian-born artist and U.S. Navy veteran whose body was discovered in his Montana Avenue condominium.
After a six-day preliminary hearing that concluded Tuesday, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge determined there was enough evidence for Daniel Gilbert Becerril II, of Huntington Beach, to stand trial on one count of murder and 29 charges of grand theft, fraud and money laundering.
Santa Monica Police arrested Becerril in March after a four-year investigation. They allege he killed the artist, who was also an elementary school teacher, after Merman became suspicious of investments Becerril was making on his behalf.
Becerril allegedly owed Merman a quarter of a million dollars, and had allegedly stolen an additional $300,000 from Merman's investment account, which the police said he deposited into a personal account and one belonging to his company, AP Financial Group.
Merman’s body was found in his condo at 520 Montana Ave. the same week that aspiring actress Julia Redding was also found murdered in her Santa Monica apartment. The discoveries were mere days and a few miles apart, but the cases were unrelated, the police have said.
Becerril remains in the custody in lieu of $2.4 million dollars. He has previously pleaded not guilty to the charges and will be arraigned again Oct. 23 in downtown Los Angeles.