Sylmar resident gets 25 years to life for killing art student
Nearly two years after he was arrested in connection with the murder of 19-year-old Colorado art student Zachary Leon, Esteban Tabarez of Sylmar was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years to life in prison, authorities said.
Leon and Tabarez met in person the night of Nov. 7, 2010, after connecting through a website. Leon drove to Tabarez's house in Sylmar, where they planned to attend a party. Shortly after Leon arrived, Tabarez texted to a girlfriend: "... I might make someone disappear tonight," authorities said.
Leon and Tabarez then apparently drove to a McDonald's for a snack. After returning to Tabarez's house, authorities said Leon called Tabarez, then 21, a tease, a slight that may have sent Tabarez into a rage. Authorities said Tabarez cut Leon's throat and stabbed him more than 24 times.
Officers arrived sometime after 2 a.m. and found Leon dead in the street next to a red Honda Civic. Tabarez told police that three men had robbed them and killed Leon. But his story didn't match the clues from the crime scene and police found two knives on Tabarez's person.
Tabarez was arrested, booked and charged with murder within the week.
-- Frank Shyong
Photo: Esteban Tabarez's booking photo is shown. Credit: Los Angeles Police Department