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Man charged with murdering couple in their Hawthorne home

10/26/2010, 8:57 a.m.

LOS ANGELES, Calif.--A 53-year-old man was charged today with capital murder in the slayings of a Hawthorne couple during a robbery at their home last week.

John Wesley Ewell was scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon at the Airport Branch Courthouse on two counts each of murder and residential robbery, along with the special circumstance allegation of murder during a robbery.

Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Ewell, who was arrested Saturday in connection with the beating and strangulation deaths of Leamon Turnage, 69, and his wife, Robyn, 57.

The two were found dead about 3:45 p.m. last Friday in their ransacked home in the 4100 block of West 142nd Street.

The victims--who were bound and gagged--had returned to the Southland from a trip to Florida to visit their son and daughter-in-law for the birth of their first grandchild, according to sheriff's Lt. Dave Coleman.

Leamon Turnage was murdered in his garage, then the killer went inside the house and murdered the victim's wife, according to detectives, who described the suspect as an ex-con who lived in the area.

Detectives were able to nab the suspect after determining he had used Turnage's ATM card at a nearby Shell station, according to the Sheriff's Department.

Ewell is also suspected in a home-invasion robbery last month in which an 80-year-old man died of a heart attack, according to sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.

A $10,000 reward was recently offered for information leading to a conviction in the death of Hanna Morcos, a retired county employee who was attacked in his home in the 4100 block of West 137th Street about 3:40 p.m. Sept. 24. His wife was in the house, but was uninjured.