A man accused of fatally stabbing the 3-year-old daughter of two of his co-workers at a downtown Los Angeles garment factory on Halloween and attacking a woman at another factory nearly eight months earlier pleaded not guilty Wednesday.
Ricardo Augusto Utuy, 34, is charged with murder for the Oct. 31 attack on Ruby Vasquez, along with the attempted murder of a woman who was stabbed at another downtown Los Angeles factory on March 10.
Utuy allegedly attacked Ruby Vasquez of Los Angeles after her parents brought her to work at a factory in the 800 block of McGarry Street, near Eighth and Alameda streets.
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The girl's mother saw her daughter, who had gone to give her father a cookie, running toward her with Utuy close behind, according to prosecutors.
Utuy allegedly stabbed the girl multiple times with a knife. She was driven from the scene in a private vehicle, which was met by an ambulance that took her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Police have not disclosed a motive for the attack.
Utuy, a Guatemalan national, later surrendered at the LAPD's Rampart Station and has remained in jail since then.
"After seeing Utuy's photograph (in news reports), an additional victim came forward and provided a statement to detectives linking him to (an) unrelated crime," according to a statement released by the Los Angeles Police Department.
LAPD Detective Supervisor Moses Castillo, who works in the Juvenile Division's Abused Child Section, called the March 10 attack "very similar" to the attack on the girl, saying that the child's family is "devastated" by what happened.
"Obviously this is a case that has really touched all of our hearts," Castillo said.
Police have asked for the public's help in finding a man named Alex who is believed to be an acquaintance of the defendant and may be able to provide valuable information about him, the detective said.
Utuy — who is jailed on just over $3 million bail — is due back at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse on Jan. 26, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial.