TORRANCE — A 23-year-old man was charged Tuesday with the fatal stabbing of a Gardena man on his way to a bus stop, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Larry Lee Wainscott of Gardena faces one count of murder with a knife use allegation. He was scheduled to be arraigned in Department 4 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Torrance Branch.
Victim Robert Kazuo Mello, 48, was allegedly stabbed to death on Sept. 29 as he walked in the 14900 block of Vermont Avenue in Gardena, where his body was later spotted by a passerby, prosecutors said.
There was no immediate word on a motive for the attack.
Wainscott was being held at the Gardena police jail in lieu of $2 million bail.
According to jail records, he was previously arrested three times this year, all for alleged misdemeanor offenses. The latest was on Sept. 21 for allegedly driving with a suspended license. He was released from custody three days later.
Wainscott was also arrested Aug. 19 for allegedly defacing property and on June 16 for an unspecified alleged offense and released the same day, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Deputy District Attorney Linda Kwon is assigned to the case.
Wainscott faces a possible maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged.
The case remains under investigation by the Gardena Police Department.
A crowdfunding campaign for Mello’s family has been established at www.youcaring.com/erika-mello-66021. The organizer, Annette Annett, said in a statement, “Bobby was an exemplary man, honest, a good citizen, that never had any problems with the law or any individuals. He enjoyed spending time with his wife and children. He was a hard-working man, who was about to complete his last week of work at Century West BMW and was to start a new job at the South Bay BMW on Monday.
“Robert is survived by his wife Erika and their two sons, 14 and 3 years old. This fund has been established to support Erika and her family during this tragic time. Every little bit helps. Please share with your family and friends to reach the goal. Thank you to everyone for your help, thoughts and prayers for the Mello family.”
The message is repeated in Spanish. The target amount is $10,000.