Mistrial declared in Southern California spa bombing case

Aug 22, 2022, 2:36 PM | Updated: 3:19 pm

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge on Monday declared a mistrial in a case against a man charged with blowing up his ex-girlfriend’s Southern California spa business, killing her and seriously injuring two others with a box rigged with explosives.

U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton declared the mistrial after jurors said they were deadlocked on the case against Stephen Beal, said Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

A retrial has been scheduled for October 18, McEvoy said.

Beal, 63, was charged with killing Ildiko Krajnyak on May 15, 2018, with a package bomb sent to her Aliso Viejo spa, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Los Angeles.

Krajnyak, 48, was killed in the fiery blast when she opened the box. Two clients — a mother and daughter — who she had just treated were knocked off their feet.

The blast destroyed the business and tore a large hunk from the building. Body parts were found in the parking lot.

Beal, a partner in the salon business, was jealous Krajnyak had been dating someone else and developed a “plan to destroy her,” U.S. Attorney Annamartine Salick said in opening statements. He allegedly slipped into the building with the packages while she was in Hungary was visiting family.

“This is a case about infatuation, obsession and control,” Salick said. “When Ildiko rejected his infatuation and starting dating another man, the defendant realized he could not control her.”

Defense lawyers said the FBI made a snap judgment by focusing on Beal and ignored other evidence and suspects.

“They started with a conclusion and worked their way backwards,” defense attorney Craig Harbaugh said.

Beal was charged with use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, malicious destruction of a building resulting in death, and use of a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Beal was arrested soon after the bombing, but explosives charges were eventually dropped when prosecutors questioned whether material found at his Long Beach home constituted a “destructive device.”

Beal claimed that explosive material found at his house were for his model rockets.

But nearly 10 months later, after what authorities called an “exhaustive” investigation, Beal was rearrested and charged.

Investigators linked Beal to fragments from the bomb, including a battery, a wire and boxes similar to the one that contained the deadly explosive. A battery used in the improvised explosive was tied to a purchase Beal made near his house.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Gabby Petito's mother Nichole Schmidt, wipes a tear from her face during a news conference o...

Associated Press

Mother of man who killed Gabby Petito said in letter she would help son ‘dispose of a body’

The mother of the man who killed Gabby Petito told her son in an undated letter that she would “dispose of a body” if needed because she loved him so much, according to copies of the note shared publicly for the first time this week by attorneys for Petito's parents.

3 days ago

A member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as The Old Guard, places flags in front of e...

Associated Press

5 things to know about Memorial Day including its controversies

Memorial Day is supposed to be about mourning the nation’s fallen service members, but it’s come to anchor the unofficial start of summer and a long weekend of discounts on anything from mattresses to lawn mowers.

3 days ago

FILE - This artist sketch depicts the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, left, as he test...

Associated Press

Officers describe chaos, fear on Jan. 6 as judge weighs prison time for Oath Keepers’ Rhodes

Police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and public servants who fled the mob's attack told a judge on Wednesday that they are still haunted by what they endured, as the judge prepares to hand down sentences in a landmark Capitol riot case.

4 days ago

Pride month merchandise is displayed at the front of a Target store in Hackensack, N.J., Wednesday,...

Associated Press

Target on the defensive after removing LGBTQ+-themed products

Target once distinguished itself as being boldly supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.

5 days ago

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)...

Associated Press

Former Arizona television journalist announces bid for Schweikert’s US House seat

A former Phoenix television journalist announced her candidacy Wednesday for the congressional seat currently held by seven-term Republican Rep. David Schweikert.

5 days ago

Tortoise by Henry Davis earned an honorable mention in the "Adventures in Nature” student photo c...

Associated Press

When you adopt a desert tortoise, prepare for a surprisingly social and zippy pet

They’re not fluffy, they don’t play fetch and they certainly don’t roll over. But there is such a thing as a lap tortoise.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles



Thank you to Al McCoy for 51 years as voice of the Phoenix Suns

Sanderson Ford wants to share its thanks to Al McCoy for the impact he made in the Valley for more than a half-decade.


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

How to identify the symptoms of 3 common anxiety disorders

Living with an anxiety disorder can be debilitating and cause significant stress for those who suffer from the condition.

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...

Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.

Mistrial declared in Southern California spa bombing case