Suspect charged with murder, attempted murder in El Sereno stabbings that left teen dead, man hurt

Eric Resendiz Image
Saturday, March 11, 2023
Suspect charged with murder, attempted murder in El Sereno stabbings
Prosecutors announced charges in connection with a pair of stabbings in El Sereno that left a 17-year-old honors student dead and a man wounded.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A man who was arrested in connection with a pair of stabbings in El Sereno, including the killing of a 17-year-old honor student outside a restaurant, is being charged with murder and attempted murder, prosecutors announced Friday.

David Anthony Zapata, 32, could face up to 40 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón.

The DA announced the charges at an afternoon news conference attended by family members grieving the loss of Xavier Chavarin, the Woodrow Wilson High School student who was fatally stabbed in one of the attacks.

Bail has been set for more than $3 million for Zapata, and his arraignment will continue on April 21.

One of Zapata's attorneys, Joseph A. Markus, told the judge that the defense team was exploring issues of "competency," "mental state" and "ngi" (referring to not guilty by reason of insanity), and said the lawyers would have a better idea of how to proceed by next month's hearing.

Zapata was arrested about 9:15 a.m. Wednesday following an hourslong standoff with police at the home where he lives with family in the 2300 block of Westmont Drive in Alhambra.

Zapata allegedly fatally stabbed Xavier on March 3 in the 4500 block of Valley Boulevard. The suspect is also accused of stabbing Daniel Villalobos, 33, about five hours later in the 5400 block of Valley Boulevard. Villalobos survived the attack.

"Both incidents were completely unprovoked," LAPD Lt. Ryan Rabbett told reporters on Thursday. "These citizens were attacked for no apparent reason."

Rabbett said police are searching for a possible second suspect, a male who was in a vehicle used by Zapata to leave the scenes of the stabbings.

"We are actively pursuing that individual," Rabbett said. The lieutenant declined to release a detailed description of that person, citing concerns about compromising the ongoing investigation.

City News Service contributed to this report.