Friday, May 11, 2012

My Friend Sasha

barrels four years ago, i blogged about the murder of my ex-boyfriend, Alexander Merman, who was stabbed to death in his Santa Monica condo. for four years, nothing happened with his case and it seemed as though it would never be solved.

about two months ago, i got an email from an LA Times reporter who had found my blog entry, saying that an arrest had been made in the case and asking to speak to me for a story he was writing. i agreed and then spent the morning reading every article i could find on the arrest.

apparenty, Sasha’s financial advisor, Daniel Becerril, had been charged with the murder as well as grand theft for stealing money from Sasha and several others, a sum that totaled millions.

Sasha had figured this out and was about to blow the whistle on the guy when he was killed. i spoke with the LA Times reporter, who wrote up a small story for LA Now that day, with a quote of mine included.

the same day, i also found a story on the LA Weekly website that had a photo of Sasha (and me) lifted from this blog and reproduced without permission. this pissed me off to no end, and i shot off a few angry emails to LA Weekly demanding that they take it down immediately.

it wouldn’t have bothered me that much if it were just a photo of Sasha, but i was also in there despite having nothing to do with the story — as part of a smiling, happy couple at my cousin’s wedding in 1999 — with a headline that read “Murder for Hire,” which pretty much made me look like the killer.

eventually, the photo was removed and i received an apologetic email from the writer at LA Weekly, Tessa Stuart, along with a request to speak on record for a longer story she was writing about the case. that came out as this week’s cover story, Murder on Montana Ave, which i’m also quoted in. it is a great piece of reporting, well written, informative and full of detail, some of which is heartbreaking and difficult to read.

from it, i learned that Sasha and Becerril were close friends, so close that Sasha attended his wedding. strange to think that this same close friend could come to his home and kill him with a knife a few years later, incurring multiple stab wounds around the head. i also learned that his mother had been there when they discovered the body and that she once told her son that Becerril had “the face of a killer” (his mugshot is in the LA Weekly story).

i called Sasha’s mother the day of Becerril's arrest to offer my sympathies and support. she asked me to come visit her in West Hollywood, no doubt so i could take her to see Sasha’s grave, which i will absolutely do. he’s buried maybe 10 paces away from where my grandparents are buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

last time i was at the cemetery, for my great-aunt’s funeral last year, i stopped by to visit him, leaving a penny behind as i didn’t have flowers with me. it was odd to see his young face staring back at me from the headstone. he was 36 when he died, the same age i’ll be next month.


admittedly, Sasha and i were not close in his final few years, having both moved on with other people, so i’m hardly an authority on his life. still, it’s weird when someone you’ve dated dies, no matter how much time has elapsed, as there’s a deeper intimacy there than with friends, a greater familiarity with that person’s inner world. although i hadn’t been part of that world in many years, i remember it vividly now, especially after sifting through a photo album i had of the week we spent together in Acapulco.

i gave a few of the photos to the LA Weekly reporter to scan, and some of them made it into the story. in that same album, i found a very sweet email Sasha wrote to me and a napkin he drew on. i hadn’t seen either in years and they did a good job of stirring up memories i hadn’t thought of in years, all of which i will file away in a special part of my heart reserved exclusively for him.

even though we didn’t make it as a couple, i always knew he was a good guy at his core — very loyal, generous, genuine and caring as a boyfriend, friend and son. that is evident in the stories i’ve read since his murder, the conversations i’ve had with the mutual friends we shared, the kind words his students wrote about him following his death. Sasha was an art teacher at a middle-school in Watts as well as a talented artist himself. he was also a good dancer, a jokester, an athlete, a devoted son and an amazing spirit.

i hope his killer is convicted and sent away for a very long time, i hope his mother finds some semblance of peace after all this, and i hope that Sasha is ok, wherever he is. rest in peace, my friend.



Russ S. said...

Milla, very caring story of a loved one gone but not forgotten. You did his memory proud one that allows closure for you and his family. R.I.P. Sasha

Milla said...

thank you, Russ.