NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Local officials are speaking out about a brutal murder that took place in broad daylight in Elmhurst on Monday.
Steven Torres, 22, admitted to stabbing Ever Orozco, 69, around 1:30 p.m. under the elevated subway tracks at Elmhurst Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue, because he claimed Orozco blew him kisses and made sexual advances, police said.
City Councilman Daniel Dromm said he spoke with the commander of the 115 Precinct about Ever Orozco’s murder.
“He told me he had never seen in all of his career a crime as horrific,” Dromm told reporters including WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman.
“Offered what we call the gay panic defense,” said Dromm.
But officials said there is no evidence to back up Torres’ claim and his defense lawyer will likely stay away from that argument anyway, Silverman reported.
Last month, the American Bar Association “asked lawyers not to use that any longer in any criminal cases,” said Dromm.
On Wednesday, the Queens District Attorney announced Torres was arraigned on second degree murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon charges on Tuesday night in connection with the killing.
He was initially charged with murder as a hate crime, police said.
“The defendant is accused of fatally stabbing an innocent bystander. His alleged actions were violent and ruthless and the charges against him will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” DA Richard Brown said in a statement.
Local leaders said attacks like this one will not be accepted.
“Ever Orozco was not gay,” said Karina Claudio-Betancourt with the advocacy group Make The Road New York. “But that’s not the message here. The message is that whether you identify as LGBT or not, homophobia and transphobia kills.”
“Whatever the mental state, somewhere along the line he learned it would be acceptable to say that he attacked this person because they made a pass at him,” Dromm said.
Witnesses chased him for six blocks before he was taken into custody by police.
Orozco’s widow said her husband was stabbed seven times.
“My husband was a very happy person, very nice with everybody, he has no problem with anybody,” Alba Orozco told CBS 2’s Steve Langford.
Police said Torres is facing charges for another stabbing incident last week. The victim survived with stab wounds to the arm. Police said in that incident as well, Torres thought his victim was making sexual advances toward him.
Torres is being held without bail until his next court appearance on Oct. 1. If convicted of the charges in the Queens murder, he faces up to 25 years in prison, the DA’s office said.
Sources say there’s insufficient evidence to back up a hate crime charge right now; to get a conviction they’d likely need something corroborating the defendant’s own statement that he thought the victim was gay, Silverman reported.
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