Suspect in Courtroom - Photo courtesy of Gorodenkoff

A Koreatown smoke shop employee pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder for stabbing a man whom he accused of shoplifting from the business.

Vardan Tokmajyan, now 28, is facing a 15-year-to-life state prison term, with sentencing set Oct. 28 in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

A special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a kidnapping that could have carried a potential sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole is expected to be dismissed as a result of the plea agreement.

Family members of the victim, Jai Carter, have objected to the plea deal.

Carter, 24, of Los Angeles, was in the smoke shop at 4th Street and Vermont Avenue on May 10, 2018, when Tokmajyan accused him of shoplifting.

Tokmajyan locked the door, pulled a knife, demanded money from Carter and then stabbed him in the chest as the customer sat on the floor, according to testimony presented during an October 2019 hearing in which he was ordered to stand trial.

Carter was able to unlock the door and run away, but died on a nearby sidewalk, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

He suffered 11 sharp force injuries, including eight stab wounds and three incised wounds, according to a report from the coroner’s office.

The crime was caught on video, according to Deputy District Attorney Paul Przelomiec.

Tokmajyan was arrested that day by Los Angeles police and has remained behind bars since then.

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