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Homeless man slain in downtown L.A.; suspect arrested

August 4, 2009 |  1:08 pm

Los Angeles police officers arrested a 50-year-old transient on suspicion of killing another homeless man by slashing his throat with a glass bottle and gouging his eyes out.

Timothy Bishop was arrested on suspicion of killing Robert Burrus early Saturday morning at a homeless encampment near 6th Street and the 110 Freeway. Officers found bloody money in Bishop’s pocket that connected him to the crime, said Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Paul Vernon, head of detectives for the Central police station.

The 67-year-old victim’s maimed body was discovered around daybreak by another transient.

“Bishop had gouged Burrus’ eyes out in a belief it would keep the victim from identifying his assailant,” Vernon said.

Police were able to track down Bishop because the transient who found Burrus' body recalled seeing Bishop the night before wearing a bloody leather jacket and carrying money with blood on it.

Officers, with the help of security officers with the Downtown Business Improvement District, tracked down Bishop nearby. Vernon said Bishop had discarded the blood-stained jacket but detectives found it, as well as the bloody money in his pockets.

“We’ve seen it time and again that, in spite of their condition, many of the homeless downtown still have a sense of pride among them that they are willing to come forward and report crimes," Vernon said. “We solve more murders downtown because of it.”

Burrus’ slaying was the fourth downtown this year, and the first this year involving a homeless person killed on the street, according to Vernon.

“Mr. Burrus’ murder is a tragic example of how vulnerable the homeless are when they sleep on the street,” Vernon said.

-- Richard Winton