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Trial begins for man in deadly 2018 California spa blast

Justice (FILE)
Posted at 11:43 AM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 14:43:57-04

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Trial has begun for a Southern California man on charges alleging he was responsible for a blast that killed an ex-girlfriend when she opened a box rigged with an explosive.

Stephen Beal, 63, appeared in Los Angeles federal court on Thursday to face charges in the May 15, 2018, death of 48-year-old Ildiko Krajnyak, Southern California News Group reported.

“This is a case about infatuation, obsession and control,” U.S. Attorney Annamartine Salick said in opening statements. “When Ildiko rejected his infatuation and starting dating another man, the defendant realized he could not control her.”

Salick said Beal created “a plan to destroy her.”

The blast occurred at Krajnyak’s spa, Magyar Kozmetika, in Aliso Viejo. Two clients were injured and the building was shattered. Body parts were found outside.

Beal has pleaded not guilty to use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, malicious destruction of a building resulting in death, and use of a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Defense attorney Craig Harbaugh asserted that the FBI was desperate to find the person responsible and made a snap judgment, focusing on Beal and ignoring other evidence and suspects.

“They started with a conclusion and worked their way backwards,” Harbaugh said.