Murder suspect Steven O. Padilla pled guilty in King County Superior Court on Tuesday to second-degree murder with a deadly weapon enhancement, associated with a knife attack that took place inside of a Burger King restaurant in Bellevue, Washington, last August.
According to a report in the Bellevue Reporter, Padilla, 38, visited the Burger King restaurant on August 17, 2014. Witnesses claim that Padilla and the victim, Jose Arias, a 65-year-old homeless man, were in separate areas of the Burger King.
During his visit, Padilla left the restroom, drew a knife from his right jacket pocket, and approached Arias from behind, who appeared to be sleeping in his booth at the time. Padilla reached over a partition and into the booth where Arias was sleeping, and proceeded to stab him multiple times in the upper torso.
Padilla then fled the Burger King on foot, carrying the murder weapon with him while police were en route to the crime scene. Arias stumbled out of the restaurant and into the Burger King parking lot, where he collapsed and died.
Padilla was arrested in a Safeway parking lot approximately 1-and-a-half miles from the Burger King restaurant where the crime occurred. He had a laceration to his left thumb, and abrasions to his knuckles.
Police employed a K-9 unit to successfully recover the murder weapon, a 10-inch fixed-blade knife that was encased in a sheath. It was found in an office complex in close proximity to the crime scene.
According to Seattlepi.com, at least two of the stab wounds that Arias received were responsible for his death. He was pronounced dead on the scene. Police do not know if the two men knew each other, but may have both been part of a large homeless community living in the general area of the Burger King restaurant. Reports state that the attack appeared to be unprovoked.
"Because of the teamwork of everyone involved in the case... justice has been served -- even for a person who is relatively invisible in our society," said Bellevue Police Detective Jerry Johnson in an interview with KOMO News.
Padilla's sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 31, where punishment will be decided. Padilla is facing a sentence of 13 to 21 years in prison for his role in the Burger King stabbing. His criminal history includes several convictions for assault.
[Image via KOMO News]