PHOENIX – A man held for questioning in the murder of an Orange County, Calif., father and daughter agreed to waive extradition Thursday during a hearing in Phoenix.
At the extradition hearing Thursday morning, Murtaza initially refused to sign the waiver papers and a full court hearing was scheduled for June 28, said Karen Arra, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Superior Court.
But minutes later, after conferring with a lawyer, Murtaza changed his mind and agreed to be sent back to California.
Murtaza had not been charged with a crime but was considered a "person of interest" in the deaths of Jayprakash Dhanak, 56, and his 20-year-old daughter, Karishma, Anaheim police Sgt. Rick Martinez said Wednesday.
The burned bodies were found May 22 along a hiking trail in Irvine, Calif., several hours after their home in the Anaheim Hills was set on fire and the girl's mother, Leela Dhanak, 53, was found badly beaten and unconscious in a yard outside. The mother is expected to recover.
Murtaza's lawyer, Jeremy Phillips, said they originally weren't going to sign the extradition order because no criminal complaint had been filed and he believed Murtaza would be released. But the judge said Murtaza was not eligible for bond, so they agreed to waive extradition.
"He's innocent, and rather than have him sit unbondable in Maricopa County Jail, we figured it's better to get him back to the judge that wants to see him in California. No one cares in Arizona that he didn't do it."
Court documents filed in Arizona show Murtaza had a one-way ticket to Bangladesh when he was arrested.
Phillips said Murtaza himself had told police that he was going to Bangladesh and that his ticket was a return ticket from an earlier flight. He said he was going to visit his sick grandmother and the trip had been planned for a while.
"His family is very traumatized by this," Phillips said.
Police believe a second person was involved in the killings.
"We have not identified any suspects," Martinez said.
A brief police probable cause statement filed in court said information developed by detectives showed Murtaza was the ex-boyfriend of the parent's other daughter, Shayona, 18. He reportedly was upset with the family because they objected to his relationship with Shayona because they had different religious backgrounds, Hindu and Muslim.
Friends said the Dhanak family was devoutly Hindu.