San Gabriel Man Convicted of Murdering, Burning Body of West Covina Firefighter

A San Gabriel man was found guilty on Friday, March 15, of the murder of a West Covina firefighter whose body was discovered burning near a roadside in Upland in 2019.

The jury at the Pomona Courthouse deliberated for two days before convicting 41-year-old Shaun Cardarelli of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit arson in the death of 28-year-old John Brian Mananghaya Aguila, who went missing on his way to work as a part-time Bureau of Land Management firefighter.

Cardarelli was the final suspect in the ambush-style robbery and killing of Aguila, who was last seen leaving his West Covina home on August 22, 2019, on his way to the BLM’s office in La Puente.

The next day, firefighters responded to a brush fire near Mountain and Euclid Avenues around 3:30 a.m. There, they discovered Aguila’s burnt body among the flames.

Two days later, officials discovered Aguila’s Honda Civic abandoned in San Dimas, with evidence of a murder inside the car’s trunk: gloves and a considerable amount of blood. Police later found security footage of a man, not Aguila, parking the Civic and walking away.

The discovery led West Covina police to a residence in La Verne, where they detained three people, including Cardarelli.

The other two guys were Davone Smith (31), and Elijah Thomas Rouse (23). Both accepted plea deals for their roles in Aguila’s murder.

Rouse pled guilty to one count of murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release on February 16 following an emotional hearing in which Aguila’s family expressed their grief over his death. Several family members request that Rouse be executed.

“There is deep pain in our family, both emotionally and mentally,” said Aguila’s father, Ernesto. “There are no more holidays, no more birthdays, just memories, memories of John.”

Smith pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact, conspiring to conduct a felony, and carelessly starting a forest fire. He has not yet been sentenced, according to court records.

Cardarelli is due to be sentenced on Monday, March 19.

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