Man Fatally Stabbed in Skid Row

September 5, 2007

Los Angeles: Los Angeles police have concluded the investigating of a fatal stabbing of a 47-year-old man, whose near lifeless body was found lying in the roadway on 7th Street, west of Central Avenue. Detectives had a man in custody within hours of the incident.

"This is the first aggravated homicide within Skid Row in over a year," said LAPD Lieutenant Paul Vernon, who heads the Central Detective Division. "But it appears the dead man was the aggressor in this case." A woman living on Skid Row was also charged with homicide in August after it was determined her two-month-old baby died from neglect.

Around 4 a.m., Sunday, August 26, a local woman found a Black man lying in the street. When police officers arrived, the man was near death from an apparent stab wound to the chest. Detectives soon linked the man to the nearby Olympic Hotel, a block west at Kohler Street, where witnesses told police they heard and saw a struggle between the Black man and a White man in his fifties.

Witnesses described the Black man threatened the White man and demanded money. At one point, the Black man grabbed the White man, who apparently stabbed him. The Black man threw the White man down, and the White man ran away holding his arm. The Black man stumbled down the street before falling down.

About four hours after the incident, 53-year-old James Harvey Stewart called police from the Torrance Memorial Hospital and reported that he was the other man at 7th Street and Kohler Street. Detectives arrested him for murder, and his bail was set at $1,000,000.

Detectives identified the dead man as Michael McKnight. McKnight lived in Skid Row and had a criminal history for robbery.

Stewart had no significant arrest record. He is a long-haul trucker, who had been visiting Skid Row for the last two days. Stewart drove himself to the hospital where doctors treated his broken elbow, sustained when McKnight threw Stewart to the ground. Detectives recovered the knife Stewart used in the struggle.

The case was presented to the District Attorney’s Office, which rejected a criminal filing, citing self-defense. This was the first homicide to occur within the Skid Row area since the Safer Cities Initiative began one year ago, September 17, 2006. Given the finding, the homicide was classified as "justifiable," which means it will not be counted among the murders reported annually to the FBI. Stewart was released from jail, and returned to his trucking job.