Jurors on Tuesday convicted a Southern California man of second-degree murder in the slaying of his former roommate, an Army veteran and Cal State Fullerton student with whom prosecutors said he was desperately in love.
Kwang Choi "KC" Joy, 55, was found guilty in the death of 36-year-old Maribel Ramos, whose body was found badly decomposed near Modjeska Canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains last year.
Joy's sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 12. He faces 15 years to life in state prison.
Prosecutors said Joy got surgery to make his eyes look younger, paid to take Ramos on a cruise, and panicked when she told him to move out of their apartment when he couldn't pay the rent.
"Maribel was his life, and the opportunity for him to be with the love of his life was coming to an end," Orange County Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons told the jury last week.
Ramos was last seen through surveillance footage, dropping off a rent check for her apartment in Orange on May 2, 2013, officials said.
She got into an argument earlier that day with Joy over rent, prosecutors said. They contended that the fighting, and Ramos' demand that Joy move out, led to her slaying.
When Ramos disappeared, Joy told NBC4 that Ramos was his "only family."
"She's my best friend, and I want her to come back," he said.
Her decomposed body was found later that month near Modjeska Canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains, prosecutors said. Her cause of death has remained unknown.
Eleven days before her disappearance, Ramos made a 911 call, saying she was "afraid" after an argument with Joy.
Earlier in the trial, Simmons showed video of Joy walking into a public library. His search history there showed that he looked up how long it takes for a human body to decay, and the location where Ramos' body was later found, prosecutors said.