GLENDORA >> A man accused of brutally stabbing two homeless men to death as they slept at a Glendora Car wash last year pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder charges in Pomona Superior Court, prosecutors said.
Drew Alan Friis, 29, of Glendora potentially faces the death penalty if convicted as charged of the Aug. 15, 2013, slayings of John “Little John” Welch and Warren Blagrave, both 52, at a car wash in the 200 block of Route 66, where they has been spending the night in the weeks leading up to their deaths.
Prosecutors are yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty in the case, or a life sentence without the possibility of parole, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. In addition to two counts of murder, officials allege the special circumstance of multiple murders, as well as the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the killings.
Investigators arrested Friis the same day the killings occurred. Friis said he was upset with one of the victims, but did not tell officials why, Lt. Ray Lugo of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said earlier this year.
Blagrave suffered more than 25 stab wounds, officials said. Welch was stabbed more than 20 times.
Friis is scheduled to return to court Feb. 20 for a preliminary hearing, officials said. In the meantime, he is being held without bail.
COVINA >> Police arrested one man and sought at least one more after four people were stabbed during a brawl outside a Covina bar early Saturday, officials said.
None of the wounds were considered to be life-threatening, however one of the four stabbing victims was taken to a trauma center with significant injuries, Covina police Sgt. Ray Marquez said. The victims were men in their 20s and 30s.
The incident began about 1:20 a.m. with an argument between two groups of men inside Rude Dog Bar & Grill, 114 N. Citrus Avenue, the sergeant said.
Police said the argument escalated into a fight and spilled out into the street.
“It started inside the bar and worked its way outside,” Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
It was unclear how many people in all were involved in the melee.
One of the combatants pulled a pocket knife and stabbed four of the men he was fighting with, police said.
Officers responding to reports of a fight encountered a wounded man at the scene, Peterson said. Paramedics took the man to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
Police received word a short time later that two more stabbing victims had shown up at a West Covina emergency room, police said.
A fourth stabbing victim with minor injuries was later found near the scene of the stabbing, Peterson said. He declined to be taken to a hospital.
Police also found Justin Powers, 25, of Alhambra at the scene of the melee, Peterson said. He was believed to have been fighting with the victims and was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. His exact role in the stabbing remained under investigation.
Investigators continued seeking at least one additional suspect, Marquez said. Police described the suspect as a Latino man between 25 and 35 years old, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, of thin build, with a bald head. He wore a blue flannel shirt and blue jeans.
A pocket knife was recovered at the scene, police added.
According to county booking records, Powers was released from jail Saturday afternoon pending his initial court appearance after posting $30,000 bail.
ALHAMBRA >> A three-time convicted felon from Los Angeles pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges stemming from the stabbing of an Alhambra man during an argument over a woman earlier this month, officials said.
Isaias Casillas, 41, is charged with assault with a deadly weapon in for the alleged Dec. 4 attack at the victim’s home in the 2900 block of Montezuma Avenue, according to Alhambra police and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials.
Casillas went to the victim’s home about 3 p.m. and the two men became involved in a fight, officials said.
“At this time motive appears to be disrespect of a girlfriend,” Alhambra police officials said in a written statement.
“While victim is in his front yard washing his car, suspect Casillas approaches victim with a gun in his hand pointing it at victim,” according to the police statement.
Casillas then began punching the victim in the head and face.
Casillas did not fire the gun, but pulled out a pocket knife and started stabbing the victim, police said.
The knife wounds , described as lacerations to the head area, were not considered to be life-threatening, Sgt. Jim Hammond said. The victim declined to be taken to a hospital by paramedics.
Police arrested Casillas in connection with the incident the following day.
Casillas and his alleged victim were acquainted with one another, Hammond said.
“ At this time motive appears to be disrespect of a girlfriend,” according to the police statement.
District attorney’s officials said Casillas was previously convicted of grand theft in 1996, possession of methamphetamine in 2000 and vehicular manslaughter in 2004.
Police also described Casillas as a gang member.
The vehicular manslaughter conviction stems from a crash in which Casillas struck a car in La Puente containing four teenagers heading home from Knott’s Berry Farm on Oct. 4, 2003. Nathaly Baustista, a 14-year-old West Covina High School freshman, died in the crash. A teenage boy suffered brain damage.
Casillas fled the scene and was arrested a short time later, prosecutors said.
Casillas pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, as well as felony hit-and-run, in January of 2004. He received a 7-year prison sentence.
If convicted as charged in the stabbing case, Casillas faces up to 16 years in state prison, district attorney’s officials said. He is scheduled to appear in Alhambra Superior Jan. 5 for a preliminary hearing setting. He was released from jail early Saturday after posting $110,000 bail, records show.
BOOKING photo of Isaias Casillas, 41, of Los Angeles courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department.
NORWALK >> Authorities arrested a man in Guatemala early Thursday in connection with the brutal stabbing death of a 50-year-old woman at her Norwalk home in 2012, officials and the victim’s sister said.
Luis Diofron, 22, is accused of sexually assaulting and fatally stabbing Denise Battey in the early-morning hours of Aug. 10, 2012, at her home in the 11900 block of Allard Street, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and Battey’s twin sister, Annese Battey.
Investigators recently received a tip that Diofron, whom they had been seeking for more than two years, had been spotted near Guatemala City, Detective Ray Lugo of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. Guatemalan police, along with FBI agents, arrested the alleged killer without a struggle Thursday morning.
Annese Battey said she was notified of the arrest Thursday morning.
“My family is just ecstatic,” she said. But the sense of justice that came with the arrest was accompanied by many painful memories.
“It’s bitter-sweet,” she said. “Everyone is breaking down. This is a day you just hope and wish for.”
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PHOTOS of Denise Battey, above, and Luis Diofron, below. (Courtesy)
BALDWIN PARK >> Two men were wounded — one of them critically — in stabbing at a Baldwin Park gas station late Saturday, police said.
The incident was first reported about 11:20 p.m. as a fight at a 76 Station at the corner of Puente and Francisquito avenues, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Mike Hemenway said.
Responding officers found two men suffering from stab wounds, he said.
A 21-year-old Baldwin Park man suffered stab wounds to his stomach, hand and arm and was taken to a hospital where he was listed in critical condition, Hemenway said. An update on the man’s condition was not available Sunday afternoon.
A 20-year-old Baldwin Park man suffered a stab wound to the side of his head, the sergeant said. Paramedics took him to a hospital in stable condition.
The suspects were described only as two attackers, and the motive in the stabbing remained under investigation, Hemenway said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Baldwin Park police at 626-960-1955. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PASADENA >> A 26-year-old man faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole at his sentencing next month after Pasadena jury convicted him of the fatal stabbing of a Pasadena barbershop owner in 2011, authorities said.
At his second trial following a hung jury and mistrial in September, a Pasadena Superior Court jury found Davon Westley Moore of Los Angeles guilty of first-degree murder for the Sept. 21, 2011, slaying of 43-year-old King E. King, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
King was found about 12:30 a.m., lying in a pool of blood behind his barbershop, King King’s Barber and Beauty Salon, in the 900 block of East Washington Boulevard in Pasadena.
The stabbing, which police characterized as brutal, stemmed from robbery and burglary at the shop, according to district attorney’s officials and Pasadena police investigators.
King didn’t go without a struggle, Pasadena police Lt. Tracey Ibarra said.
“He was fighting to survive this attack,” she said.
In addition to first-degree murder, the Jury also found true the special circumstances of murder during a robbery and murder during a burglary, prosecutors said.
Moore is expected to receive a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole when he returns to court for sentencing Dec. 9, district attorney’s officials said.
Moore’s co-defendant, 22-year-old Sabrina Octavia King of Compton, who was not related to the victim, pleaded “no contest” to charges of voluntary manslaughter and robbery in March, officials said. She faces up to 21 years in state prison when she returns to court for sentencing,
A previous trial for Moore in September ended in a mistrial, with jurors hung 11-1 in favor of convicting Moore.
ALHAMBRA >> A Rosemead man pleaded not guilty to murder Thursday following the fatal stabbing of a Monterey Park man last month, officials said.
Angel Octavion Garcia, 18, is accused of fatally stabbing Alhambra Parks and Recreation Department employee Edward Mendoza, 35, Oct. 14 in a parking lot in the 1700 block of Potrero Grande, near Arroyo Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
He entered his plea in Alhambra Superior Court, where he was ordered to return Jan. 9 for a preliminary hearing setting, Los Angeles County district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
“There are no indications the two men knew each other,” according to the statement. A motive for the slaying has not been released.
Mendoza called 9-1-1 to report he had been stabbed, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. Investigators have declined to release further details of the 9-1-1.
Paramedics rushed Mendoza to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he died from his injuries.
“Soon after the incident, a person came forward to police and identified Garcia as the assailant,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
Mendoza had worked a part-time recreation leader for the Alhambra Parks and Recreation Department since 2001, city officials said. Most recently, he served as a children’s football referee at Almansor Park in Alhambra.
Recently, Ray said Mendoza was refereeing football for the children at Almansor Park, 800 S. Almansor St. in Alhambra.
Sheriff’s investigators arrested Garcia Oct. 18, according to Los Angeles County booking records. He was being held in lieu of $1.025 million bail.
Loved ones have created a memorial video in tribute to Menoza at www.eddiemendoza.org.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> The second of two defendants denied murder and assault charges in connection with the fatal stabbing of a La Mirada woman during a fight over a parking space at the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet last month, officials said.
Reggie Cervantes, 22, of South Los Angeles pleaded not guilty to one count of murder and one count of assault with a deadly weapon for the Oct. 17 stabbing in the parking lot of the swap meet at 13963 Alondra Boulevard, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Cervantes is additionally accused of the special allegation that he personally wielded a knife in the crime, officials said.
Cervantes’ co-defendant Brenda Jasmine Rangel, 19, of South Los Angeles pleaded not guilty to murder and assault charges Oct. 21 in Norwalk Superior Court.
The two suspects are accused of fatally stabbing 43-year-old Elizabeth Yanez of La Mirada during a dispute over a parking space about 9;30 p.m., Whittier police officials said.
Yanez was in a vehicle with her two adult children when she got into an argument with Cervantes and Rangel, who were in another car, police and district attorney’s officials said.
“At some point, Cervantes exited his car and attempted to stab Yanez’s son, but was unsuccessful,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “Cervantes then allegedly walked over to Yanez and stabbed her,”
Yanez succumbed to her injuries at an area hospital.
Investigators found and arrested Cervantes and Rangel in connection with the fatal stabbing the following morning at a South Los Angeles apartment, according to Whittier police Lt. Kent Miller said.
Prosecutors said Cervantes was previously convicted of robbery in 2009 and receiving stolen property in 2010.
Both face up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted as charged, officials said.
Cervantes and Rangel were being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending trial, according to booking records. They were scheduled to return to court Dec. 15 for a preliminary hearing.
NORWALK >> A Downey man pleaded no contest Wednesday to fatally stabbing a Long Beach man during a dispute at a Norwalk home earlier this year, authorities said.
William Edward Johnson, 38, entered a “no contest” plea in Norwalk Superior Court to a count of voluntary manslaughter for the March 4 stabbing death of 53-year-old Darin Sivley, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. Johnson also admitted the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the crime.
Under the negotiated plea arrangement, Johnson is expected to receive a 12-year prison term when he returned to court for sentencing Monday, Ardalani said. He had originally been charged with murder prior to the plea deal.
Sivley was found fatally wounded on along the road near Studebaker Road and Ferina Street shortly before 3 a.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
But the stabbing took a place while both Johnson and Sivley were at the home of a mutual acquaintance nearby, according to sheriff’s and district attorney’s officials.
“While there, Sivley began to irritate the homeowner, who wanted him to leave,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement. “As a result, Johnson pulled out a knife and stabbed the victim in the upper arm. The puncture severed a major artery and Sivley began to bleed profusely.”
Someone at the home place a tourniquet on Sivley’s wound before Sivley got on a bicycle to go to a hospital, officials said. But soon collapsed and bled to death.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau arrested Sivley in connection with the fatal stabbing two days later.
NORWALK >> Paramedics rushed a wounded man to a trauma center after he was stabbed late Friday at a Norwalk hotel, officials said.
The stabbing was first reported about 8:20 p.m. at the Guesthouse Hotel, 12500 Firestone Blvd., according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and fire officials.
Someone brought the wounded man to Norwalk Hospital by private vehicle, sheriff’s Lt. Daniel Gillespie said. Medical staff there determined the victim needed to be transferred to a trauma center.
The victim suffered major injuries including a punctured lung but was expected to survive, Gillespie said.
Deputies sought two male suspects possibly seen running from the area, the lieutenant said. One was believed to be armed with a pocket knife, and the other with a large hunting knife. No further description was available.
The investigation remained in its early stages, however it initially appeared the man was inside a room at the hotel when some sort of fight erupted, he said.
No further details were available.