The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

Man pleads not guilty to murder in El Camino College sledgehammer attack

A woman walks by the Torrance Courthouse on Wednesday, Jan. 17. Jeffery Davis, the man accused of attacking Junko Hanafusa by the El Camino College Gymnasium, was arraigned on the same day. He pleaded not guilty to the murder charge brought by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. (Ma. Gisela Ordenes | The Union)

The man accused of the Dec. 24 sledgehammer attack on a woman near the El Camino College Gymnasium pleaded not guilty to the murder charges against him during his Jan. 17 arraignment.

The District Attorney’s Office charged Jeffery Davis, 40, with murder under California Penal Code section 187, according to Walter Quinteros, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case.

The arraignment at the Torrance Superior Court lasted less than 10 minutes. The next court date is scheduled for March 6.

When Davis arrived, he was wearing a blue prison jumpsuit. His hands were cuffed and he avoided eye contact with the people assembled in the courtroom, except for the judge and the clerk.

Davis’ attorneys spoke on his behalf until the judge, Thomas Sokolov, asked if Davis understood his plea and he uttered “yes” in a low voice.

Murrey Correa, public defense attorney, said the case could take one to two years, as investigators continue to gather evidence and information.

Correa, who has worked as a public defender for 29 years, said he’s “never seen a murder case get done in six months.”

About 20 employees from property management company Goldrich Kest, where murder victim Junko Hanafusa worked, were present in the courtroom.

The employees filled the entire left gallery of the courthouse, waiting almost four hours to see the man who was charged with killing their colleague and friend.

Letitia Hines, who worked with Hanafusa for 18 years, said she was “the backbone” of the company’s affordable housing division.

“[Hanafusa] made sure that those programs stayed in place for people that needed housing,” she said.

Hines said the employees came to the courthouse to convey who Hanafusa was.

“We are here to represent her as a person so it doesn’t come off as [Hanafusa] was just some person collecting recyclables,” she said.

Hines said the entire company was devastated when they learned of Hanafusa’s death.

“[Hanafusa] was an amazing person,” Hines said.

Another employee, Renice Lane, said they came to court to “support Junko” and learn of the outcome concerning Davis.

“For the life of me I can’t understand why someone would attack a lady that is just out there minding her own business,” she said.

Lane said she became friends with Hanafusa at work and had known her for 22 years.

She said Hanafusa had a strong work ethic, doing everything “with a good heart.”

“[Hanafusa] always tried to help people [and] had a big smile,” Lane said.

Hines said Hanafusa worked at the company for 39 years and was about to retire after paying off her house.

“I had a conversation with [Hanafusa] a week before [the attack] happened. She was so excited about her retirement,” Hines said.

Hines lives near El Camino and said she has seen an increase in the population of transients and mental illness in the area.

“It’s a lot of people that walk around and you can tell that there’s a lot of mental illness going on…[it] really needs to be controlled some way, somehow,” she said.

Union reporter Erica Lee contributed to this story.

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