NORWALK >> An alleged gang member accused of stabbing and seriously injuring his uncle in Pico Rivera, then stabbing and beating a former friend with a hammer in South Whittier two days later pleaded not guilty Thursday to a series of charges in connection with the December attacks, authorities said.
“Alfred Tapia was arraigned on two counts of attempted murder and one count each of mayhem and child abuse,” Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. He is additionally accused of the sentence-enhancing allegation that the crimes were gang-related.
Tapia, 34, fled to Mexico where he was apprehended and returned to the United States last month to face prosecution. If convicted as charged, he could face life in prison as a third strike offender, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
The near-fatal stabbings and beating took place Dec. 3 at the home of Tapia’s uncle in the 8700 block of Olympic Boulevard in Pico Rivera, and Dec. 5 at the home of a former gang member and friend in the 10500 block of Nashville Avenue in South Whittier, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and district attorney’s officials said.
In the first incident, Tapia went to his uncle’s home, where the two men had a “disagreement over a personal matter,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
Tapia stabbed his uncle several times in the back, inflicting serious injuries including a collapsed lung and a punctured liver, sheriff’s officials said. Further details regarding what the men argued about were not available.
Two days later, Tapia arrived at the home of his former friend, sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said.
“The man was home alone caring for his infant child,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “Tapia chased the man outside and reportedly attacked him with a knife and hammer.”
Tapia’s second alleged victim suffered major injuries, including both stab wounds and blunt force trauma, Nishida said.
The charge of mayhem was filed due to injuries suffered by the second victim, Ardalani said. However prosecutors declined to describe the nature of the injuries.
Under California law, mayhem occurred when a person, “unlawfully and maliciously deprives a human being of a member of his body, or disables, disfigures, or renders it useless, or cuts or disables the tongue, or puts out an eye, or slits the nose, ear, or lip.”
Tapia was also being investigated in connection with the Dec. 6 stabbing of another relative in Chino, however he has not been charged in connection with the incident.
Tapia was scheduled to return to Norwalk Superior Court June 2 for a preliminary hearing setting, officials said.
PHOTO of Alfred Tapia courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department