VAN NUYS, Calif. — A Santa Monica man was convicted today of murdering a 22-year-old female friend whose body was found in the trunk of her car in Valley Village after a fax was sent to a television station.

The Van Nuys Superior Court jury deliberated about three hours before finding 25-year-old Adel Tabrizi Chapel guilty of first-degree murder in the Feb. 28, 2009, slaying of Denise Figueroa of North Hills.

Jurors also found true the allegation that Chapel had used a hammer in the commission of the slaying, according to Deputy District Attorney Jane Creighton.

The woman’s body was discovered in the trunk of her Nissan Altima in the 11700 block of Hortense Street, near Colfax Avenue, on March 7, 2009, after authorities were notified by KTLA-TV that an anonymous fax had been sent to the news station.

Figueroa had been reported missing by her mother.

The victim was struck at least nine times in the head and suffered other wounds that were likely defensive to her arm, according to the prosecutor.

As to the motive, “Only two people can say. One of them is dead,” Creighton said.

Chapel is facing a maximum 56-year-to-life term, with sentencing set for Dec. 2 before Judge Martin Herscovitz, according to the prosecutor.

Chapel is waiting to be sentenced on Dec. 3 at Airport Superior Court in a separate carjacking and assault case. He was convicted of all counts in May in that case, prosecutors said.

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