LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A man was charged with murder Wednesday in the fatal stabbing of a cab driver in a Burger King parking lot last November, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Transient Victor Daniel Torres, 32, aka Daniel Victor Torres, faces one count each of murder, attempted first-degree robbery on a transit operator and carjacking in connection with the November 15, 2019 killing of 68-year-old Burbank resident Oganes Papazyan.
Torres was arraigned on Nov. 19 and pleaded not guilty to capital murder charges in the killing of Papazyan in a Burger King parking lot located at Grand and Cesar E. Chavez Avenue in Chinatown after being picked up from Union Station.
A fellow driver said Papazyan and himself would often talk about the “unsavory characters that walked around Union Station looking for cabs.
“Everything and anything comes through here,” said the fellow cab driver. “I call this the zoo, the two-legged zoo.”
The murder charges include special circumstance allegations of murder during the commission of a carjacking, murder of a cab driver, and an allegation of personally using a deadly and dangerous weapon, a box cutter.
Witness Michael Bullard told CBSLA he saw the driver and passenger exit the car and then saw the passenger stab the driver at least three times in the neck.
“It’s the most brutal act of violence I’ve ever seen my whole life,” Bullard said.
The coroner’s office later confirmed that Papazyan died from sharp force trauma to the neck.
Bullard said Torres got back into the vehicle, appeared to grab something, then tried to put the car in reverse, which would have run over Papazyan.
“He went back in the car, ad it looked like he stole some money,” said Bullard. “Then he put it in reverse, I thought he was going to run the guy over, and he got out and took off running.”
Torres, originally described by Bullard as a younger man wearing a black hoodie, exited the vehicle and fled on foot.
“He ran real fast past our car,” said witness April Adams. “And I got a chance to see him but I was like, ‘What is he running from?'”
Patrol officers saw Torres — who fit the suspect description — in the 500 block of North Main Street on Sunday and stopped him for questioning. He was subsequently booked for murder.
Papazyan immigrated to the U.S. in 1990 and had been driving cabs for 20 years.
If convicted as charged, Torres faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.