More charges for man accused in LA County homeless slayings
A man suspected of killing at least four people during a spate of savage attacks on Los Angeles County’s homeless community earlier this year was charged with four additional counts of attempted murder, a prosecutor said after a court hearing on Thursday.
Ramon Escobar, a 47year-old Houston man, was arrested in late September and charged in a weekslong series of assaults that left a number of homeless men beaten to death or comatose in downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica.
The four additional attempted murders occurred during the same stretch of September when Escobar is accused of committing the other attacks. In all, Escobar is charged with four counts of murder, eight counts of attempted murder and six counts of robbery, court records show.
In an amended complaint filed by prosecutors on Thursday, Escobar was charged with attempted murder and robbery in a Sept. 11 attack on Albert Gene Scott in the 4700 block of West Slauson Avenue in Windsor Hills.
Another new attempted murder charge stemmed from an attack Sept. 15 at the edge of MacArthur Park. The victim, Michelle Matice, was severely injured, as was Scott. Matice may have been a transient, but Scott was not homeless, said Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Victor Avila.
On Sept. 19, four days after Matice was attacked, Escobar allegedly assaulted Kyla Renard and David Dotson in Griffith Park, leaving them severely injured, Avila said. Escobar was also charged with robbing Renard. Avila said he was not sure whether the two victims were homeless.
Prosecutors also upgraded a previous attempted murder charge against Escobar to murder. The victim, 63-year-old Jorge Martinez, was attacked on the morning of Sept. 24 in Santa Monica and died six days later.
Escobar was arrested near the scene of the attack on Martinez. In a downtown courtroom early Thursday morning, Escobar appeared in handcuffs and blue jail scrubs, sporting a thick salt-and-pepper beard. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
According to the complaint, five of the surviving victims were left comatose because of injuries they suffered during Escobar’s attacks.
Escobar last lived in the Houston area, but police say he fled to Southern California after his aunt and uncle, Dina and Rogelio Escobar, disappeared in late August. The charred remains of Dina Escobar’s car were found on a beach in Galveston, Texas, in early September, and Houston Police have said they believe they were victims of foul play.
Investigators believe Escobar arrived in Santa Monica on Sept. 5, living out of his car for the next three weeks as he allegedly launched a series of attacks on individuals who appeared to be sleeping outside.