Murder suspect said he came to Grover Beach to buy pot

October 18, 2019

Levente Laszlo Lazar

An Indiana man accused of driving to California, murdering his mother in her Grover Beach home, and driving back took the stand in his own defense this week. He testified the purpose of the cross-country road trip was to buy marijuana and an engagement ring for his girlfriend. [Tribune]

On Oct. 25, 2018, Grover Beach police officers found the body of Athena Valentiny, 64, lying inside her condominium. Valentiny was a California Men’s Colony nurse and the mother of Levente Laszlo Lazar.

Lazar, who is currently awaiting a verdict in his trial, is charged with first-degree murder and an enhancement for allegedly committing the crime for financial gain. If convicted of murder and the enhancement, Lazar faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors allege Lazar drove to Grover Beach, plunged a sharp object into his mother’s neck up to 10 times, stole items from her condo and then drove back to Indiana.

Valentiny’s original will or trust was allegedly found at Lazar’s home after the Indiana man said he was the sole heir to his mother’s estate. Prosecutors allege Lazar intended to liquidate his mother’s estate to pay for his upcoming wedding to a trophy girlfriend, as well as to pay off tax liens and student debt.

On Wednesday, Lazar took the stand in his own defense. Lazar testified that he traveled to California to buy an engagement ring for his his girlfriend to whom he was planning on proposing. The Indiana man also testified the road trip to California was, in part, to buy about 15 grams of marijuana from a Los Angeles dispensary.

When he arrived at his mother’s condo, she was not there, Lazar testified. Without even getting out of the car, Lazar turned around and made the trip home, he testified.

Surveillance footage, however, showed a person matching Lazar’s appearance walking away from her condo on Oct. 24, 2018, the day the murder was alleged to have occurred.

The following day, Lazar made online searches with words including “suspect” and “murder.” Lazar testified he did so because, based on his phone conversations with his mother, he had an uneasiness that she might be in trouble.

Lazar, who was born in Hungary, also said the fact that English is not his first language factored into the terms he searched. Lazar said he sometimes uses alternative words because English is not his first language.

Following Valentiny’s death, Lazar initially lied to a district attorney’s office investigator about his whereabouts at the time his mother died. In his testimony, Lazar said he lied to investigators because he feared being charged with drug trafficking.

Lazar said he got caught up in his lies, and his lies snowballed to the point where he became the prime suspect in his mother’s death.

In response to questioning about an alleged financial motive, Lazar testified his mother mailed her will to him, and he was assisting her with financial planning.

The prosecution and defense delivered closing arguments in the trial on Thursday. Jury deliberations are underway and will resume on Monday.


A plausible alibi. A 4,000 mile road trip and at least $500 in gas to buy $50 of pot. One might ask why he didn’t buy the weed in Colorado. Wanted to see the ocean maybe?


This headline is straight up false.

The story itself says he was going to LA to buy pot, not Grover Beach. It makes it sound like murders are driving across the US to visit Grover Beach’s two dispensaries. Come on CCN, we want local news not yellow journalism.


Problem is in the knucklehead’s testimony itself, so I am not sure if I would conclude this article’s headline to be in the realm of yellow journalism, though I do understand it is a bit misleading. Problem is in the son’s implausible explanation as to his intentions matching his actions… Why would he be going to LA dispensary when there is one just a skip away from mama’s house… oh, yeah, the language barrier, that is it… He took a road trip for a whole fifteen grams of pot, to check on his mother’s safety, and to buy a wedding ring… is his testimony, but in fact I think he drove cross country to California to buy himself a brain….


Sounds like he has Ilan Funke-Bilu for a lawyer.


He likely came to California to buy a substantial amount of marijuana in order to return to his native state and resell it on the black market. Perhaps he could not convince his mother to go along with his business proposal so he decided killing her and robbing her would be a pathway forward.

Thou shalt not murder.

Honor thy mother and father.

Mom may have tried getting her boy to church once in a while. It can be a real lifesaver.


…maybe he did attend Church….plenty examples of moral failures within the Church.

You assume a lot about his upbringing and essentially blame the mother for her own murder because of her inability to get him to Church.

There are countless scenarios that could be put forth to explain his behavior without blaming the victim.

But, without any evidence, you choose to blame the mother because of her spiritual dereliction of duty.

That’s so “Christian” of you.


Does he really expect the judge/jury to believe:

1. He had to drive 2,200 miles to pick just the right engagement ring? And we all know things are cheaper in California (not!)

2. He couldn’t score some pot in Indiana? Certainly, if he really had to buy legally, he could have driven just 1,000 miles to Colorado to score some pot.

3. He had to drive cross country to pick up just a 1/2 ounce of pot?

I guess he was hoping that if he got caught, he could be tried in SLO, where nearly everyone gets off.


In all fairness, most tried for murder in SLO County are convicted, but if you meant caught for drugs, well, that is debatable… Perhaps he had a tantrum when his mother wouldn’t fund his marriage… I am kind of curious on whether he came to kill her, or came to angle her for some cash and she wasn’t having it… Needless to say the wedding is off… Commitment regardless….


What is the Hungarian word for “guilty greedy liar”…

Jorge Estrada

At the B of S meetings in the 80’s, Michael Kovas, used to say David Blakely for those pronouns.


The words are: “Magyar AdamHillious”