knife in silhouette
Example of a knife, not the one in story. Photo via Pixabay

The Christmas season killer of a 71-year-old Boyle Heights bar owner who was stabbed 104 times apologized Monday to the victim’s family before being sentenced to 22 years in state prison for the DNA-linked cold-case 2001 crime.

“I am so sorry,” he told the family in court almost 16 years after the “horrific” crime.

Hugo Lara, 44, pleaded no contest earlier this month to voluntary manslaughter with gang and gun enhancements in the stabbing death of Alfredo Trevino.

Lara is already serving a 13-year prison sentence for a 2008 second- degree robbery conviction. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Edmund W. Clarke Jr. ordered the terms to run consecutively.

After consulting with his bailiff, Clarke ordered the defendant to remain handcuffed throughout the hearing.

“The risk he presents to deputies is higher than most,” the judge said, citing reports of Lara’s behavior in custody, but offering no details.

Lara read a written statement apologizing “first and foremost” to the victim’s family.

“I pray not for forgiveness but for the closure the Trevino family deserves,” Lara said. “I am so sorry.”

The victim’s daughter gave her own statement on behalf of her family, telling the court that “today’s a good day for us” because of Lara’s long prison sentence.

“The crime was horrific … beyond words. I don’t believe anybody truly deserves to die like that,” Blanca Trevino said, adding that Lara “took away many more years” that her father could have enjoyed.

“We miss my dad a lot,” she added.

The judge thanked the victim’s daughter for her “dignified and thoughtful” words, telling her, “I like to think that I see Alfredo Trevino in you.”

Blanca Trevino thanked the Los Angeles Police Department for their work, but Lara used much of his own statement to accuse a police investigator of lying about a confession the defendant said never happened.

Lara alleged that the investigator falsely claimed that he confessed the killing was a hit ordered by a crime boss.

“I never confessed or admitted to such (absurdity),” Lara said. “Greg Smith has made this case about himself … using it to … glorify his ego” rather than to find justice.

Smith was a reserve police officer working cold cases who was able to tie Lara to the crime based on DNA on bloody rubber gloves found inside the bar.

A “W” carved into the victim’s back led police to believe he was killed by gang members in retaliation for a fatal shooting at the bar a year earlier, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Prosecutors said Lara was one of three men who entered La Cita Bar in the 2400 block of Whittier Boulevard shortly before midnight on Dec. 17, 2001. A waitress was held at knifepoint while Trevino was stabbed.

The suspects retreated when they heard a siren, but when they realized it was an ambulance, they began stabbing Trevino again. He died at the scene.

No other suspects in the case have been named.

–City News Service

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