NORWALK >> A former international fugitive admitted on Thursday breaking into the home of his then-neighbor in Norwalk stabbing the 50-year-old disabled woman to death in 2012, authorities said.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 25, was captured in Guatemala two years after the Aug. 10, 2012, slaying of Denise Battey in the 11900 block of Allard Street, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
After nearly three more years awaiting trial, Difron pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree murder, along with the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a burglary, as well as the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the murder, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago.
Prosecutors initially accused Diofron of the additional special circumstance of murder during the commission of a rape. Under Thursday’s negotiated plea arrangement, the allegation of sexual assault was dismissed.
“(Diofron) broke into his neighbor’s home and fatally stabbed the 50-year-old woman,” Santiago said in a written statement. “Following the killing, the defendant fled to Guatemala where he remained for several years. (He) was located in December 2014 and extradited to Los Angeles County four months later.”
Diofron is expected to be receive a life term in prison without the possibility of parole when he returns to the Norwalk branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court for sentencing on July 19, Santiago said.
Diofron was living next-door to his victim while staying in the U.S. on a work visa, Detective Ray Lugo of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said shortly after his capture.
He attacked Denise Battey as she watered her garden during the early-morning hours, like she did every morning, according to investigators and her twin sister, Annese Battey.
Difron then dragged Denise Battey inside her home, where he stabbed her to death, officials said.
He then fled to his native Guatemala.
But detectives received a tip in late 2014 that the killer had been spotted near Guatemala City, Lugo said. Sheriff’s detectives, aided by Guatemalan police and the FBI, arrested Diofron without a struggle on Dec. 4, 2014. He was extradited back to the Los Angeles County to face justice four months later.
The victim was defenseless from her attacker, having just undergone back surgery and suffering from severe sciatica in her one of her legs.
Denise Battery worked for the U.S. Social Security Administration and tutored students on college preparation in her spare time, Annese Battery said. She was a fan of classic cinema and was known for handing out her homegrown tomatoes in her neighborhood.
Denise Battey dreamed of one day having a small home or condominium on the back, her sister said.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 25, [LEFT] pleaded guilty on Thursday, June 29, 2017 to the murder of neighbor Denise Battery, 50, of Norwalk [RIGHT] on Aug. 10, 2012. Difron was captured in his antive Guatemala two years after the murder. (Courtesy)