LOS ANGELES – A man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to fatally stabbing a 70-year-old man in the South Los Angeles area and attacking another man less than a week earlier.
Keonte Woods, 26, of Los Angeles, is charged with murder and a knife use allegation for the May 5 killing of Dal Keun Lee, along with a count of assault with a deadly weapon involving an alleged attack April 30 on a separate victim.
Los Angeles police said officers responding to a radio call of assault with a deadly weapon found the victim with a stab wound to his neck in the 5300 block of South Main Street.
Lee was taken to a hospital, where he died that day.
Police said a preliminary investigation showed that Lee’s assailant — wearing a distinctive sweatshirt and a surgical mask — approached the victim from behind, stabbed him in the neck and then fled west on foot.
The Los Angeles Times reported that a 20-year-old mathematics student from China was attacked on the USC campus the night of April 30 with a sharp object and was able to pull it away from his neck, and that the young man was told that Woods was still carrying the sharpened metal hair pin when he was taken into custody.
The newspaper reported that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office initially declined to file a felony assault case against Woods in connection with the alleged attack April 30, instead referring it to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office for consideration of a misdemeanor case. Police asked the District Attorney’s Office after Lee’s killing to reconsider filing a felony assault charge involving the earlier attack, with the two felony charges being filed May 16, according to The Times.
The defendant’s uncle, Travis Jones, who lived with him in the family’s home, told The Times that his nephew recently seemed to be struggling with mental issues that “came out of nowhere.”
Woods — who was arrested in the South Los Angeles area early May 12 — has remained behind bars since then in lieu of just over $2 million bail.
A date is scheduled to be set Aug. 23 in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to allow the case against Woods to proceed to trial.