Jury finds man guilty of missing former Altria executive’s murder

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A jury convicted a man Friday evening of murdering a former Altria executive who vanished in 2012.

The jury found Michael Edwards guilty of second-degree murder and recommended the he be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Edwards had been charged with first-degree murder of Leyla Namiranian, who disappeared without a trace after she left work in Henrico County on April 4, 2012.

Police have declared her dead, even though her body has not yet been found. Edwards pleaded not guilty to the crime on Monday.

During closing arguments, the prosecution painted Edwards as a person trying to hide a crime. In the police interrogation video, detectives informed Edwards they obtained his cell phone records which pinged him near Namiranian's home for five hours the day she was last seen.

They confronted him, and told him he was not being truthful because he initially told police he did not wake up until 11 a.m. that day, but cell phone records showed he was near Namiranian's Chesterfield home around 5:15 a.m.

The prosecution said Edwards was jealous and angry after discovering the 41-year-old woman was involved with another man from her work.

However, the defense told jurors “this case is based on speculation.”

A DNA expert testified that a blood stain found in Edwards’ car was not Namiranian's. Also, none of Edwards’ DNA was found inside of Namiranian's home, clothing or on her cell phone.

The defense noted that after over 40 searches in Central Virginia, no remains have ever been recovered. He cited Namiranian's journal entries that show she was unhappy at work and longed to live on the beach.