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Long Beach police arrest 4 in 2 killings

Two men are accused of fatally stabbing a woman in 2009 and a man and a teenage girl are accused in a shooting.

September 12, 2013|By Kate Mather, Richard Winton and Nicole Santa Cruz

One was a 76-year-old woman who was stabbed to death inside her home in 2009, the other was a 23-year-old woman gunned down in July as she was retrieving her son's diaper bag.

On Thursday, Long Beach police announced arrests in the two unrelated slayings, which had remained unsolved.

Freddie Battle, 25, and Dontae Davis, 24, were arrested on suspicion of stabbing 76-year-old Leam Sovanasy during a Jan. 31, 2009, robbery. Sovanasy's son discovered her body that morning.

The case went unsolved for four years, and family members said they wondered if they would ever get closure.

"I just wish I could ask the person, 'Why did you do that to my mom? Why,' " Chad Sovanasy previously told The Times.

Over the years, detectives continued working the case. In July, investigators received a tip about a car seen nearby on the day of the crime. Volunteers canvassed the neighborhood, off North Peterson Avenue and East 14th Street, and within weeks, police had developed composite sketches of two possible suspects.

Davis, who has an extensive criminal history, saw one of the composites and allegedly called police, saying that he was one of the men. He tried to fish for information about the case, Lt. Lloyd Cox said, and told police that he would come to the station with his attorney, but he never showed up.

Investigators learned that Battle was an associate of Davis, and linked the men to the suspect vehicle with traffic citations. Authorities ultimately tied the men to the Sovanasy case using DNA left at the crime scene, including evidence from a broken window used as the entry point.

Battle was arrested Sept. 5, and Davis the next day, authorities said. The men face murder and burglary charges and are due in court Sept. 23.

"We couldn't believe it at first," said Samantha Sovanasy, the victim's daughter. "Our family doesn't have fear anymore."

The second case was more recent. Jason Haggerty, 30, and Tatiyana Marie Tate, 16, were arrested last weekend and charged with the July 25 killing of Jazzmine Marie Wash, 23. Tate is being charged as an adult, prosecutors said.

Wash was found in the courtyard of a Long Beach apartment complex with multiple gunshot wounds. Initially, police had few leads.

Earlier that morning, Wash was sitting on a South Los Angeles bus bench with her 3-year-old son when a person pointed a gun at her. She fled and called police, Cox said.

She was at the police station giving statements when she asked Tate to pick her up.

The teenager allegedly drove Wash to the home of Wash's grandmother, where Haggerty allegedly ambushed her in the courtyard. Police said Tate tipped off Haggerty where to find Wash.

Haggerty planned the ambush, Cox said. Haggerty blamed Wash for providing authorities with information that could jeopardize his probation and potentially send him to prison, police said.

"He made a decision she needed to die." Cox said.

Cox said the girl initially lied, saying that she did not know the gunman.

Haggerty and Tate are charged with murder and are in custody. Both are due in court Sept. 24.

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