Tag Archives: California

Crime Time ~ Diabolical ~ Family or Foe

#CrimeTime with Alicia Dean

I love true crime shows, and I watch them every night. (Since I write suspense, thriller, and mystery, it’s not a waste of time…it’s research, right? 🙂 ) I love Investigation Discovery and watch many of the various shows, although some are a little too cheesy. However, there are plenty of shows that are done well enough to feed my fascination with murder. Each week, I’ll blog about some of the recent episodes I’ve seen and I’d love to know your thoughts. Let me know if you’ve seen the episode and, if so, what you thought about it.

Today’s post is from Diabolical, Season 1, Episode 7: Family or Foe:

Diabolical, Season 1, Episode 7

In 1992, when a young couple take their six-month-old baby boy to Creek Park in La Mirada, California, tragedy strikes. The seventeen-year-old mother, Vicki Gonhim, is shot to death as she sits in the passenger seat of the car, her baby strapped in his car seat in the back, her husband heading around to climb into the driver’s seat.

The husband, Morrad Ghonim, who was nineteen at the time, claimed they encountered a group of gang members, who began saying inappropriate things to his wife. She mouthed back at them, then the couple headed back to the car. Just as she got inside, and he was going around to the driver’s side, shots rang out, and he realized his wife had been hit. The husband sped off with her bleeding in the front seat. He was stopped by police and stated he was rushing his wife to the hospital. By this time, she was dead. Authorities brought him in for questioning. Although, he claimed to be taking her to the hospital, there was a hospital seven miles from the park where she was shot, and the husband had driven farther away from that location.

Police were suspicious, but there was no evidence to charge him. The case eventually went cold.

Fourteen years, later, after receiving a grant for DNA testing, the case is re-opened. Clothing found at the crime scene has been in evidence all these years. The clothing contains DNA, which is tested. The DNA is a match to a man named Leon Martinez, who is currently incarcerated. An additional DNA sample is taken from Martinez for confirmation, and it’s a hit.

As part of the investigation, police take the husband, Morrad, back out to the crime scene and ask him again what happened. The interaction is videotaped and it is obvious the guy is nervous, confused, and lying. He stutters and stumbles over his words and can’t form a complete sentence. When he was first interviewed, he stated they’d left the windows up when they exited the car. When they returned and were rushing to get back in, he claims he was going around the car to the driver’s side and was not yet in and hadn’t yet started the car when the shots were fired. However, the windows were down when she was shot, and they were automatic windows, so since he hadn’t yet had the key in the ignition, he could not have yet rolled down the windows.  Very suspicious. (I love how police keep having suspects tell their version of what happened. If they are lying, they will almost always trip themselves up)

Martinez, the shooter, finally decides to tell the policed what happened. He says Morrad had bought coke from him, then a few days later, contacted him about killing his wife and offered him five-hundred dollars. (he ends up making other statements about different amounts he was paid and when questioned about the inconsistencies says he doesn’t remember all the details. Since he was doing so many drugs, that’s not surprising). Leon said Ghonim wanted him to make it look like a botched robbery.  He shot her through the window, and she pleaded with him not to hurt her baby. Martinez shot her again and again, eventually shooting her in the eyes. As her body slumped over, Ghonim handed him an envelope of cash, reaching over his wife’s body.

A few years after the murder, Morrad married again. His second wife later told police that she learned he had cheated on her, so she told him she planned to return to Texas. He said, “It’s fine if you move, but if you ever think of getting a divorce, I’ll hurt you … It cost me $500 then, it won’t cost me much now,” and, “If you divorce me, I will throw some acid on you that makes sure you never get married in your life again.”

By the time of his eventual arrest, he had relocated to Antigua and married his third wife, a beauty queen.

Police decide there is enough evidence to arrest him, and he is charged with his wife’s murder. In December, 2016, twenty-four years after his wife’s murder (which is more years than she was even alive), he is convicted and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The shooter, Martinez, is given 28 years to life in exchange for his testimony against Ghonim.

Vicky’s family is close to Vicky and Morrad’s son, who is now twenty-six, and does not believe his father killed his mother. Can you imagine what it must be like, for all of them? They love their nephew but he loves and believes in the man who murdered their precious sister. And the nephew loves the family who raised him, yet they believe the father that he loves and believes in, is guilty of murder. What a difficult situation, I feel for the entire family.


Filed under Crime Time

Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters – AWESOME Debut Novel by Lida Sideras – Giveaway!

I am absolutely thrilled to introduce today’s guest, Lida Sideris. I had the privilege of being her editor for her debut novel, Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters with The Wild Rose Press. Not only did I love the book, Lida was a joy to work with. Please help me welcome her and her fabulous story…(And isn’t the cover fantastic???) 🙂


To be taken to the Amazon Buy Page:   Click Here


Watch out Southern California! There’s a new entertainment attorney in town and she’s got game. Only problem is, it’s not the one she should be playing. Corrie Locke belongs behind a desk, not behind a Glock. She should be taking VIP calls, not nosing around a questionable suicide. Instead, she’s hot on the trail of a murderer. Luckily, she’s the daughter of a late, great private eye and she’s inherited his love of sleuthing…and illegal weaponry. It doesn’t help matters that her gene for caution is a recessive one. Corrie finds herself in the center of a murder case, unearthing suspects in shocking places. With a cold-blooded killer on the loose, Corrie will have to up her game, or die trying.


I veered out of the parking lot and bounced onto the cavity-ridden dirt road. The mystery car appeared out of nowhere from beneath the tall pines, eclipsed by the darkness. Now it raced away somewhere ahead.

“Why didn’t we hear it start?” I asked James.

“It’s a hybrid.”

“We’re in a car chase with a Prius?” A car chase with a Porsche or Ferrari was respectable, but with a battery operated car? All bragging rights vanished.

I shifted into warp speed and surged downhill. Seconds later, we faced the hybrid’s rear bumper. The spot for the license plate sat empty.

“He’s not getting away,” I said.

The hybrid turned and launched up a hill, kicking up pebbles and a dusty haze. It fish-tailed and I nearly nipped it in the rear. I executed a sharp left and ran over something large. And lumpy.

“Stop,” James said.

I skidded to a halt, a cloud of dirt trapped in my headlights. The Prius escaped through an open gate and onto La Paz. My eyes cut to the rearview mirror. My tail-lights illuminated the road behind us in an eerie red glow. As I surveyed the scene, not a trace of saliva remained in my mouth.

On Sale through The Wild Rose Press for ONLY $3:   Click Here

*** LIDA is giving away a print copy to one lucky commenter. (US Residents only) Winner will be announced this Saturday!

And now, let’s get to know Lida…

1) Where did you get the idea for MURDER AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS?

I was seeking an escape hatch from my day job, a way to lighten things up. The hatch eluded me, until I carved one out using words and altered scenes from a former life. I’d gone from working a high-profit job in a movie studio to running a non-profit on a shoestring budget. I used the entertainment industry as the backdrop of my novel and inserted a strong, but conflicted heroine, some slightly insane minor characters, and a murder to really rouse things. Writing a mystery was a challenge, but so much fun! And that’s what I was going for: fun. I really enjoyed twisting and turning reality around, and figuring out what the crazy characters were going to do or say next.

2) Are there any tricks/habits you use when creating a story?

One of my aunts shared issues of a magazine with me: Point de Vue, a French publication featuring European royalsAll very attractive, well dressed royals living colorful lives. I’d study the photos and create characters based on expressions, demeanor, and how I fancied they’d act, react, and interact. I wrote profiles for each and turned them into characters to populate my novel.

4) Do you have another occupation, other than writer?

I’m a lawyer, which works well because my day job has given me endless ideas and material for writing!

9) What’s your favorite book of all time and why? What’s your favorite childhood book?

I LOVE books, so it’s a challenge to whittle it down to one.  Today, I’d say it’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe because she wrote it during a time when women were expected to do little more than run a household, and because this one small book made such a monumental impact.

My favorite childhood book is The Secret Garden – it contained mystery (who was crying at night and why the garden was a secret) and explored a multitude of themes like the power of positive thinking, which was highly appealing to my young mind. And I can’t resist happy endings!

10) What do you want readers to come away with after they read MURDER AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS?

I love films of the thirties and forties, especially those that give the viewer a little lift afterward. I hope that readers feel a small lift after reading my book. And if any part brings a smile to the face of a reader, I’ve been successful.

12) Would you rather have a bad review or no review?

I will not be ignored! So I’d have to say I’d rather have a bad review. Just hope it’s a thoughtful and constructive one or it would be like not getting a review at all.

15) What is your favorite quote?

In my spare time, I collect quotes, so again, it’s a challenge to name just one, so begging your pardon in advance, here are two that tie (you can pick the tiebreaker):

The happiness of one’s own heart alone cannot satisfy the soul; one must try to include, as necessary to one’s own happiness, the happiness of others. ~Paramahansa Yogananda 

I think the mirror should be tilted slightly upward when it’s reflecting life–toward the cheerful, the tender, the compassionate, the brave, the funny, the encouraging, all those things. ~ Greer Garson

I enjoyed the interview, Lida…like you, I love old movies (as we’ve discussed), and I love the quote by Greer Garson. 

Thank you so much for joining me today!


Like her heroine, Corrie Locke, Lida Sideris hails from Los Angeles and worked as an entertainment attorney for a film studio. She has written numerous magazine and newspaper articles, a poem or two and a teleplay. Lida resides in the northern tip of Southern California with her family, their German Shepherds, Barbie (short for Barbarian) and Duncan, and a flock of uppity chickens. She was the recipient of the Helen McCloy/Mystery Writers of America scholarship for mystery writing. Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters is her first novel.

Find Lida here:



Twitter: @lidasideris


You may also purchase the book here:


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