Cold case murder charges against 73-year-old Alhambra man dropped

Charges were dropped against a 73-year-old Alhambra man who was accused of a 1981 murder, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports. The prosecution said it was unable to proceed in the case.

"They couldn't find anybody who could identify him as the alleged gunman," Jane Robison, spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office told the Tribune.

Police arrested Abraham Tovar in early May at his Alhambra home for the 1981 slaying of Charles McGhee, according to a press release from the LAPD. More than three decades after the victim was shot and beaten to death on New Year's Day in South Los Angeles, the LAPD concluded a months-long investigation of Tovar after having discovered that he was living as a fugitive on Chapel Avenue in Alhambra since 2008.

Police alleged Tovar and his brother Andrew had an earlier dispute with a man in a vacant lot around the 2300 block of Central Avenue just south of downtown. Armed with a handgun and a hatchet, they returned later that day seeking revenge, but unable to find the man, allegedly turned on Charles McGhee and Wayne Alexis, killing McGhee at the scene. Alexis survived his gunshot wounds and later testified against Andrew, who served time in state prison and has since died. Abraham, who was suspected of shooting both men, disappeared just after the attack, and remained a fugitive with an outstanding homicide warrant for 31 years.

LAPD homicide detectives that were assigned to the cold case began following new leads, conducting surveillance and interviews of Tovar's friends and family over the course of several months. The investigation led to two search warrants and finally his arrest. Lieutenant Andy Nieman of the LAPD said in May, "This is a perfect example of how sooner or later, the long arms of the law will catch up with criminals."

The prosecution announced Monday during a prelinary court hearing that they would be unable to proceed, according to the Tribune.

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