LOS ANGELES — A Canadian real estate tycoon's son who wrote a graphic novel that features gruesome killings was convicted in Southern California Wednesday, June 20 in the torture and mutilation of a live-in girlfriend who had given birth to their child weeks before.
A Los Angeles jury found Blake Leibel, 37, guilty of first-degree murder, torture and aggravated mayhem in the slaying of Iana Kasian.
Deputies discovered the 30-year-old's naked body in the blood-spattered master bedroom of couple's West Hollywood apartment in May 2016. The victim suffered a very slow and painful death, the Los Angeles County medical examiner stated. In addition, all of her blood was drained from her body, according to a news release issued in 2016 by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Authorities believe Leibel was planning on disposing of her body, but Kasian’s mother requested sheriff’s deputies to go to the apartment on May 26, and they interrupted. They found sheets and clothes with both people’s blood inside a dumpster, officials said.
Leibel was arrested at the apartment where he had initially barricaded himself in an attempt to keep deputies from entering, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Leibel faces life in prison when he's sentenced June 26.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman, during closing arguments, said Leibel’s acts were willful, premeditated and deliberate, and that he was sadistic.
“Sadism is the gratification obviously from the infliction of pain and suffering on another, and we know that in this case the defendant obviously enjoyed it because he continued to do it for hours and hours,” she said.
The prosecutor added that one of the reasons the defendant allegedly committed the murder was that he was jealous Kasian’s sole focus turned to the couple’s newborn daughter.
“The amount of cutting and tearing, the violence involved -- that’s a lot of anger because she no longer was making him the number one most important thing in her life,” Silverman said.
The case made headlines in Canada, where his father, Lorne Leibel, a sailor on the country's 1976 Olympics team, built a fortune constructing homes in the Toronto area.
Blake Leibel moved to California and lived off an allowance of about $18,000 a month over a seven year period until inheriting the majority of his mother's estate.
He worked in a variety of creative roles, including as a director and creative consultant in 2008 on the animated series based on Mel Brooks 1987 film "Spaceballs," according to his profile on IMDb. He wrote and directed his own film comedy, "Bald," that same year.
He's credited as the creator and executive editor of the graphic novel "Syndrome," published in 2010. The book's plot follows a mad doctor's quest to test his theory that he can isolate the root of evil in the brain and fix it, trying his experiment on a serial killer.
The graphic novel opens outside a prison where the killer is about to be executed for 38 murders. It then flashes back to scenes of him hanging a couple by their ankles and slitting the man's throat.
Leibel used a knife in a "prolonged attack" in which the victim was "alive for the better part of the mutilation and mayhem," prosecutor Tannaz Mokayef told jurors. She said the crime "followed a script" from the graphic novel.