Trial in the Most Gruesome Murder Ever in WeHo, if Not the World, Began Today

Blake Leibel, left, and Iana Kasian (Facebook)

Three weeks after his live-in girlfriend gave birth to their daughter, a West Hollywood man murdered the woman and drained all the blood from her body, mirroring the script of a graphic novel he co- wrote, a prosecutor told jurors Friday.

“He authored the book “Syndrome.” … Just pay close attention to the baby on the cover,” Deputy District Attorney Tannaz Mokayef told jurors during her opening statement in Blake Leibel’s trial, saying it “mimics what happened to the victim, Iana Kasian” in May 2016.

Leibel, 37, is charged with murder, torture and aggravated mayhem stemming from the 30-year-old woman’s killing in the condominium they shared on Holloway Drive. The murder charge includes the special circumstance allegations of murder by torture and murder by mayhem. Leibel is the son of Lorne Leibel, a wealthy Toronto real estate developer known for his collection of Ferraris At the time of Kasian’s murder, Liebel was married to and had a child with another woman, Amanda Braun, with whom he lived in a Beverly Hills mansion. He filed for divorce from her in July 2015. In August 2015 Braun gave birth to their second son.

The District Attorney’s Office opted not to seek the death penalty against Leibel, who faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if he is convicted as charged.

“This case reads like a movie script,” the prosecutor told jurors, adding that it was more like a horror movie about a “gruesome crime” that involved a “prolonged attack” in which Leibel’s girlfriend was “alive for the better part of the mutilation and mayhem.”

“He followed a script, as you will, in a book he authored – ‘Syndrome’,” Mokayef told the panel at the Airport Branch Courthouse in Los Angeles.

One of the book’s co-authors is expected to testify that the concept of draining blood out of a victim’s body was thought up by Leibel — with the prosecutor telling jurors that Leibel’s girlfriend was left without any blood in her veins.

The woman’s nude body, which was covered with a Mickey Mouse blanket that had been used earlier in their newborn daughter’s nursery, was discovered May 26, 2016, in the couple’s blood-spattered master bedroom after Kasian’s mother called authorities to report that she had not been able to reach her daughter, the deputy district attorney said.

She showed jurors an illustration of a woman in the book and urged them to compare it with the crime scene, saying it’s “almost exactly like what you have” in the case.

Leibel had barricaded himself inside the master bedroom and came out in boxer shorts after his accountant showed up, with sheriff’s deputies discovering “blood everywhere,” Mokayef said.

The woman appeared to have been washed thoroughly and was missing her scalp and the right side of her face, and pieces of flesh were found in the room, the prosecutor said. She noted that part of the victim’s scalp and an ear were subsequently discovered in a trash bin at the bottom of a chute outside the condominium.

The prosecutor said Leibel hadn’t counted on the persistence of his girlfriend’s mother, who initially notified Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies about her daughter’s disappearance one day before her daughter was found dead and then again in a 911 call in which she pleaded, “Help me,” the day her daughter’s body was discovered.

After briefly consulting with her client, defense attorney Haydeh Takasugi told Superior Court Judge Mark Windham that she would reserve her opening statement until the start of the defense’s portion of the case.

The victim’s mother, Olga Kasian, who had traveled to the Los Angeles area from the Ukraine to help her daughter with her newborn child, was called as the prosecution’s first witness.

Through a Russian interpreter, the victim’s mother said she had been helping to care for the baby, who was staying with her at a Los Angeles apartment, and that she never saw her daughter alive after the two went shopping May 23, 2016, to look for a baby stroller. She said she spoke to her daughter once the following afternoon and then never heard from her again.

“Were you worried about your daughter?” the prosecutor asked.

“Yes,” the woman responded, noting earlier that the two had been in constant telephonic communication with each other.

Kasian has filed a civil lawsuit against Leibel, seeking $36 million. It the lawsuit is a transcript of a deposition by Dr. James Ribe of the L.A. County Coroner’s Office in which he describes the circumstances of Kasian’s death as likely to be unprecedented outside of wartime.

Ribe said Kasian’s “entire scalp was traumatically absent and was not found, was not present with the body. Her skull had been stripped down to the surface of the bone … There was no scalp present except for little bits in the back of the neck.”

“Also portions of the right side of her face were torn away including the right ear and part of the posterior face on the (right) side, all the way down to the jawline. … As far as the face, there were quite a number of bruises and abrasions on the face, primarily on the left side, the left cheek, and left jaw area, a number of bruises and abrasion, including one which turned out to be a human bite mark…”

Among the most unusual aspects of Kasian’s death, Ribe said, was “that she had lived for at least eight hours approximately after receiving the scalp injury and the bruise to the collarbone.”

“I have never seen this before. And I doubt if hardly any forensic pathologists in this country or abroad have even seen this outside of, perhaps, wartime … So it’s extremely rare….”


2 Comments
  1. This is one of a dozen of gruesome incidences in the last 7 years.

    Let’s not forget the gay jilted boyfriend who disemboweled his doctor boyfriend and cut out his heart and cut off his penis while being found drenched in a pool of blood of his dismembered boyfriend’s corpse and ran into the bathroom trying to commit suicide while sherriff’s tried to break down the apartment and bathroom doors!

    The sherriff’s force that mistakenly took the victims of a bizarre drug fueled attempted murder as the murder suspects all the while drugs crystal meth and bath salts were to make the roommate deranged and climb through windows and attack three roommates, one viciously who almost had his throat slit and the other two shot at by police, one critically and one fatally! Ironically the murderer’s only injury was a cut hand due to him smashing in sliding glass windows. These drugs are making a comeback and making its user phychopathic in behavior or becoming paranoid or hearing voices, so much so it lead to this city once again getting embarrassed over straight entertainment industry interns and workers come from all over just to make weho more unsafe and violent.
    More straights creeping into the city limits only to commit crime, battery and violence but now gays are using the same drugs and getting violent too!

    An attempted decapation with an ax of a male customer at 7/11 who suggest he pay a homeless man’s grocery bill instead of him stealing and the homeless man cane back with a machete or ax and try to mutilate the man.

    A brother from South America who killed his own brother over a money dispute gone wrong and left him to die in a van off Willoughby and Stanley near where I lived and it was gruesome too. I smelled something in the air and thought I’d smelled animal stench or roadkill only to find out the brother’s body was not found until 3 weeks later severely decomposed in the van 2 blocks from my street. The police had to pursue an international manhunt and extradite him back to California, which almost took a year and an international sting operation with South American authorities posing as someone interested as intereste business partner. One of those offshore scams or failed enterprises that probably led to money troubles and subsequent murder of his brother, when the brother probably tried to confront him about it!
    Let’s not forget a gay boyfriend near westmount drive or Huntley south of Santa Monica that tried to Stab and kill his longtime partner for threatening to leave or kick him out for excessive debts, drinking and drug usage. Luckily the boyfriend called 911 and the police got there as suspect was trying to stab the boyfriend!

    This city is getting out of control. More people are becoming desperate to live and get into debt and getting access to drugs or substances!

    Look at the fights in weho and that’s only alcohol but drugs more powerful and potent than before are making a comeback!

    Oral Heroine, Crystal Meth, bath salts, crack, and so many accidental fires due to the making of hallugenic drugs and powders! Then the aftermath of menacing and psychotic behaviors!

    This is getting scarier by the year and I pray not to encounter a homeless person or a partygoer who goes on the attack. I already had to deal with that on the bus and in the street and don’t want to always look over my shoulder at night in these parts of Weho and LA that presumably are safe but statistics show otherwise!

    People were so afraid of the double murders in one apartment complex 8 residents moved out of that place on Larabee in 1 month alone! Look who suffers in the process over these murders! We do!

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