Crime

Money was a motive in murder of Grover Beach woman, DA’s Office says

Levente Laszlo Lazar, 26, is arraigned in San Luis Obispo Superior Court following his extradition from Bloomington, Indiana. He’s charged in the alleged murder of his mother, Athena Ilona Valentiny, of Grover Beach.
Levente Laszlo Lazar, 26, is arraigned in San Luis Obispo Superior Court following his extradition from Bloomington, Indiana. He’s charged in the alleged murder of his mother, Athena Ilona Valentiny, of Grover Beach. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

An Indiana man accused of fatally stabbing his mother, a Grover Beach resident, last October was at least partly motivated by money, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office says.

Prosecutors on Friday filed an additional allegation in its murder case against Levente Laszlo Lazar of Bloomington, Indiana, saying he was motivated by financial gain, a special allegation that opens him up to the death penalty if convicted.

Assistant District Attorney Eric Dobroth said Friday afternoon, however, that prosecutors will instead seek life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for Lazar.

Dobroth declined to provide any additional details of Lazar’s motivation for the alleged crime.

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Athena Ilona Valentiny, 64, of Grover Beach, was found stabbed to death in the 200 block of South 9th Street. Grover Beach Police Department

Lazar, who has pleaded not guilty, remains in custody without bail in San Luis Obispo County Jail following his extradition from Indiana early last month.

Lazar, 26, is accused of stabbing to death Athena Ilona Valentiny, who was found in her home in the 200 block of South 9th Street on Oct. 25 after police arrived at the residence to conduct a welfare check, according to the Grover Beach Police Department.

Lazar is then accused of fleeing to Bloomington, where San Luis Obispo County authorities traveled to interview him and serve a search warrant.

Lazar was arrested Nov. 6 on suspicion of the murder and booked him at the Monroe County Correctional Center in Bloomington before his transfer to SLO County.

The same day, the District Attorney’s Office filed a single count of murder against Lazar, with an additional sentencing enhancement involving the alleged use of a knife.

Valentiny was a licensed vocational nurse at the California Men’s Colony, according to a spokeswoman there. Valentiny had been employed at the prison since 2013, but had been with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation since 2011. She previously worked at California State Prison, Corcoran.

Lazar is due back in court March 20.

Tribune reporter Gabby Ferreira contributed to this story.

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Matt Fountain is The San Luis Obispo Tribune’s courts and investigations reporter. A San Diego native, Fountain graduated from Cal Poly’s journalism department in 2009 and cut his teeth at the San Luis Obispo New Times before joining The Tribune as a crime and breaking news reporter in 2014.
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