POMONA >> A jury convicted a Rowland Heights man Tuesday of fatally stabbing his ex-boyfriend, an El Monte man, to death in an industrial neighborhood in La Puente last year.
Andres Aguirre, 28, also known as Andres Aguirre Garcia, faces up to 26 years to life in prison when he returns to Pomona Superior Court July 7 to be sentenced for the Feb. 12, 2014, slaying of 27-year-old Joseph Chacon, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
The men had ended a relationship years prior to the stabbing but had recently reunited and become friends at the time of the killing, officials said.
On the night of the fatal stabbing, Aguirre picked up the victim at his Rowland Heights home, authorities said. “Aguirre provided Chacon with a large amount of alcohol and drove the victim to an isolated industrial area in La Puente,” district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
The men ended up in a parking lot behind an insulation business owned by La Puente’s then-mayor, Charlie Klinakis, in the 15900 block of Old Valley Road in La Puente, Lt. Steve Jauch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said at the time.
“At one point, the victim exited the car to urinate and Aguirre followed,” the statement said. “As the victim attempted to return to the car, Aguirre fatally stabbed Chacon in the chest and back.”
“Four of the five wounds were fatal or potentially fatal,” Deputy District attorney Lauren Guber said.
Chacon’s body was found by a passer-by a short time later.
Detectives arrested Aguirre two days later after he agreed to meet with detectives for an interview. He was the last person known to have seen Chacon alive.
As Aguirre’s story failed to add up, he confessed to stabbing Chacon, sheriff’s and district attorney’s officials said.
Chacon and Aguirre had been involved in a relationship, but broke it off in 2006, the prosecutor said. The men fell out of touch for several years, but began a friendship when they met by a coincidence on a bus in the year or so leading up to the deadly encounter.
Following his arrest, Aguirre told investigators that he became angry at Chacon because he believed Chacon was being a bad friend and disrespecting him by taking phone calls and making other plans while the men spent the evening together, Guber said. Aguirre also made mention of seemingly unfounded, irrational fears that Chacon or one of his friends would harm him, though Chacon never physically harmed or threatened Aguirre.
Aguirre told detectives his intention on the night of the killing was to “test their friendship,” Guber said. He brought the knife with him when he picked up Chacon, later admitting to investigators that if the night did not go well, the thought of killing his friend had crossed his mind.
Following his arrest, the killer then led investigators to a roadside in Walnut where he had buried the knife used in the killing, described as an ornamental sword-like knife with a blade about 10 inches long, Guber said. “He seemed to have driven it into the ground with a hammer.”
That confession was played as evidence for the jury during the trial, Ardalani said.
Following a five-day trial, jurors deliberated for less than a day before finding Aguirre guilty of first degree murder, along with the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the killing, the prosecutor said. In doing so, jurors rejected the defense’s position that Aguirre should be convicted of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, rather than murder.
“The jury worked hard. I think they came to the right decision, Guber said.
AZUSA >> A man stabbed and wounded another man early Sunday after an argument at an Azusa condominium complex escalated into a fight and stabbing, police said.
Police jailed Jose Manuel Castaneda, 43, of Los Angeles in connection with the 2:20 a.m. stabbing in the 700 block of East 5th Street, Azusa police Cpl. Robert Landeros said. His alleged victim, a 29-year-old Azusa man, was hospitalized in stable condition with a stab wound to his abdomen and expected to make a full recovery.
“The incident began as a verbal argument inside of a condominium,” the corporal said. “The argument quickly escalated into a physical altercation and stabbing.”
Police arrested Castaneda at the scene, Landeros said. Officers recovered a folding knife with a 4-inch-long blade believed to have been used in the stabbing, and also found Castaneda to be in possession of a small amount of suspected methamphetamine.
The relationship between the suspect and victim was not clear, police said. Both men appeared to have been drinking prior to the alleged attack.
According to police and county booking records, Castaneda was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and drug possession. He was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
PASADENA >> A teenage boy was in stable condition Thursday as police investigated the circumstances surrounding how he was injured, police said.
The stabbing was first reported just after noon in the 900 block of East Orange Grove Boulevard, just east of Lake Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
It was believed to have resulted from an argument between the victim and a companion and a group of five to six suspects, Lt. Mark Goodman said. Witnesses directed officers to a nearby pharmacy, where one of the alleged attackers was found and arrested.
The victim, a 17-year-old Pico Rivera boy, showed up at a local hospital with stab wounds to his leg, Goodman said. He did not appear to be cooperating with investigators.
Jailed in connection with the stabbing was Jose Martinez, 29, of Altadena, Goodman said. Police continued seeking four to five additional suspects.
NORWALK >> A man accused of sexually assaulting and fatally stabbing his disabled neighbor in Norwalk before fleeing to Guatemala returned to the U.S. Friday to face charges, authorities said.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 22, was extradited back to Los Angeles County via LAX following his Dec. 4 arrest in San Miguel, Escuinta, Guatemala, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
Diofron is suspected in the brutal stabbing death of 50-year-old Denise Battey Aug. 10, 2012, at her home in the 11900 block of Allard Street, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials
He’s charged with murder, with the special circumstances of rape and burglary, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
After Diofron allegedly fled the country, federal authorities also charged the suspect with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. But the federal case is expected to be dismissed as the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office prosecutes the murder case.
Diofron, who was living near Battey while in the U.S. on a work visa, attacked and sexually assaulted Battery as she watered her garden, according to sheriff’s officials and her twin sister, Annese Battey.
He then dragged her inside her home and stabbed her to death, authorities allege.
Denise Battey worked as a system support analyst for the U.S. Social Security Administration and tutored students in college preparation part time, according to her twin sister, Annese Battey. She was an avid gardener and a classic movie buff.
And the victim was defenseless against her attacker, authorities and family members said. She had just undergone back surgery and suffered from severe sciatica in her left leg.
Diofron was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, records show.
PHOTOS: TOP: Murder suspect Luis Fernando Diofron (courtesy). BELOW: Homicide victim Denise Battey (courtesy)
SOUTH EL MONTE >> A man died after he was found stabbed in the neck in the front yard of a South El Monte home late Saturday, authorities said.
Deputies responded to the 11200 block of Broadmead Street about 11:30 p.m. after receiving word from Los Angeles County fire officials that a 42-year-old man had been found bleeding from a stab wound, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. James Long said.
Coroner’s officials had not yet identified the victim Sunday afternoon, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corrall said.
Paramedics rushed the man to a hospital, but he ultimately succumbed to his injuries, Long said.
“Detectives learned that evidence related to this incident was discovered in a residence in the 11200 Block of Broadmead Avenue,” Deputy Mike Barraza of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
A SWAT team was positioned in front of the involved home Sunday morning into the early afternoon.
Deputies placed a handcuffed woman in the back seat of a patrol car and quickly drove away from the scene just after noon. A second person was also placed into a squad car and driven away from the scene.
Long confirmed the SWAT team had entered the home and detained two people. Their potential connections to the slaying were unclear.”
“At approximately 12 p.m., the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Bureau assisted homicide detectives with the service of a search warrant in which several individuals were detained,” Barraza said. “Detectives are trying to ascertain what their involvement is, if any, regarding the earlier stabbing. “
No arrests had been made Sunday afternoon, and no further details were released, officials said.
Deputies shut down traffic on nearby Durfee Road as the SWAT team kept the home surrounded Sunday morning. Yellow crime scene tape cordoned off a city-block-long section of Broadmead Street.
Neighborhood residents watched over the commotion but said they did not know what had taken place, or who had been killed.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
WHITTIER >> A man suffered stab wounds to his head, neck and chest in an attack in a Whittier alley Sunday afternoon, police said.
Few details were available regarding the stabbing, reported just after 2 p.m. in the 7200 block of Whittier Avenue, just south of Wardman Street, Whittier police Lt. Kent Miller said.
The victim, a 27-year-old Whittier man, did not appear to be cooperating with investigators, Miller said. He only told police he was attacked by about five people armed with a knife and possible broken bottles.
A neighbor found the victim bleeding in the alleyway and called for help, Miller said.
The circumstances and motive in the stabbing were not clear.
Paramedics took the injured man to a hospital where he was listed in stable condition, Miller said. The investigation remained in its early stages.
WEST COVINA >> A West Covina man disarmed his attacker and held him down for police after being stabbed Saturday during a fight at a West Covina park, police said.
The alleged attack took place about 1 p.m. at Walmerado Park, 625 E. Merced Avenue, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
The victim — a 30-year-old, 6-foot 4-inch man of muscular build — was at the park when he was approached by an acquaintance, the lieutenant said.
After a brief exchange of words, the suspect pulled a knife and stabbed the victim in the bicep, police said.
“The victim was able to overpower the suspect,” Patton said.
He disarmed his attacker and threw him to the ground, Patton said. The victim was still on top of the suspect, holding him down, when officers arrived on scene.
The suspect suffered a broken leg in the confrontation, Patton said. His name was not available Sunday afternoon as he remained hospitalized. Police described him as a 31-year-old La Puente resident.
It was unclear what dispute led to the stabbing, Patton said.
BALDWIN PARK >> A man died and a woman was hospitalized following a stabbing at a Baldwin Park townhouse Thursday afternoon , officials said.
The incident was first reported at 5:36 p.m. in the 4700 block of Maine Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Al Jackson said.
Paramedics pronounced a 23-year-old man dead at the scene, fire Capt. Matt Boyan said. A woman, described as 18 or 19 years old, was taken to a trauma center with stab wounds described as moderate.
No outstanding suspects were being sought in what Lt. Steve Jauch of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said initially appeared to be an incident of domestic violence between the man and woman.
“The male and female do have some type of dating relationship,” the lieutenant said.
The man lived at the home where the stabbing took place, while the woman was believed to live elsewhere in town, Jauch said.
The circumstances of the violence that unfolded at the townhouse remained unclear as the investigation was in its early stages, he said. There was no evidence to indicate anyone else was involved, but Jauch said it was too early to label either the dead man or the woman as a criminal suspect.
Police first responded to the scene after a neighbor discovered the wounded woman on the front porch of a neighboring home, Jauch said. Police found the man in the garage of his home a short time later.
Jauch declined to discuss any statement the woman may have made prior to being hospitalized. Detectives planned to interview her soon.
Both the man and woman suffered stab wounds to their upper torsos, Jauch said. But investigators had not recovered any weapons believed to be involved in the incident.
Neighbors and workers at a nearby business said they did not see or hear anything out of the ordinary before police swarmed into the neighborhood and began cordoning off a townhouse with yellow crime scene tape.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau responded to help Baldwin Park police with the investigation. Anyone with information can reach the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTO by Sarah Reingewirtz
PASADENA >> Officials on Wednesday postponed the arraignment hearing for a man accused of stabbing and beating his grandmother at the family home in Altadena last week as the court examines whether the 22-year-old suspect is mentally competent to stand trial, officials said.
Alexander Touloudjian is accused of repeatedly stabbing his 77-year-old grandmother and striking her in the head with an ax handle late Friday at the home they share in the 1700 block of North Allen Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. The woman suffered major injuries but was expected to survive. A motive in the attack was not known.
Touloudjian appeared in Pasadena Superior Court Wednesday to answer to a charge of attempted murder, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. He is also accused of the special allegations that his victim suffered great bodily injury, and that he personally used a deadly weapon in the crime.
But the suspect entered no plea, court officials said. Instead, the defense declared there was a doubt as to Touloudjian’s mental competency to stand trial.
A mental competency hearing was scheduled for March 25 at the Mental Health Courthouse, officials said.
Initially held in lieu of $30,000 bail, Touloudjian’s bail was increased Wednesday to $1.07 million, according to court officials and county booking records.
ALTADENA >> A 22-year-old man beat and repeatedly stabbed his 77-year-old grandmother at an Altadena home late Friday, leaving her severely wounded at a hospital, officials said.
Deputies arrested Alexander Touloudjian at the scene without a struggle and booked him on suspicion of attempted murder, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and county booking records.
Juliet Touloudjian was rushed into emergency surgery at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Lt. Cruz Solis said.
The attack took place about 7:45 p.m. at a home in the 1700 block of N. Allen Avenue, just south of New York Drive, the lieutenant said. The woman was beaten in the head with an ax handle and stabbed multiple times in the torso.
Deputies recovered the ax handle, he said, but the knife used in the attack had not been found.
Though seriously injured, the woman was able to escape the attack and seek help.
“She managed to go to a neighbor’s house,” Solis said. “She was covered in blood. The neighbor called 9-1-1.”
Responding deputies took the grandson into custody at the scene, Solis said. It appeared he made no attempt to flee.
The grandmother lives at the home where the stabbing took place, he said. It was not clear if her grandson lived with her.
Investigators had not determined a motive in the attack.
A man at the Touloudjian home Saturday declined to comment.
Neighbors said they had never known Alexander Touloudjian to be violent and they were stunned to learn of the alleged attack on his grandmother.
The young man, who had lived at the home with his grandmother and sister for more than a decade, took care of his grandmother, said a neighbor who did asked that her name be withheld. She described him as a “very, very nice man,” who studied nutrition at Pasadena City College and worked two jobs washing dishes at local restaurants.
“Everybody liked him. He helped everybody,” the neighbor said. “I’m trying to understand. I can’t.”
She added that the grandson and grandmother seemingly had a close relationship, though Juliet Touloudjian tended to be “very strict” with her grandchildren.
But Alexander Touloudjian did display some odd behavior, the neighbor said. She would sometimes hear him shout out to Jesus in the middle of the night, and had told her more than once that he believed someone was climbing on the roof.
Over the past three weeks or so, however, the neighbor said she noticed a change in Alexander Touloudjian, “Like he was not in this world.”
He would sit and stare for long periods of time, and acted as if he didn’t recognize her, the neighbor said. But when asked if he needed help, he always responded that he was okay.
The neighbor said she hoped Alex Touloudjian would receive treatment, rather than a prison sentence.
“I couldn’t help him. That’s why I’m very said,” she said.
Though she only knew Alexander Touloudjian from brief greetings in passing, “He’s always very nice,” neighbor Marina Kilzi said.
“I still can’t believe it,” neighbor Marina Kilzi said. “I don’t know what happened.”
Alexander Touloudjian was arrested three days prior to the alleged attack on his grandmother on suspicion of being drunk in public, Arcadia police Sgt. John Bonomo said.
He spent a little more than five hours sobering up in jail before he was ultimately released without charges, according to police and booking records.
Alexander Touloudjian’s has no prior violent convictions, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records. He was convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 percent in July of 2012, and of trespassing in March of 2012.
Alexander Touloudjian was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court, records show.