Tempe, Arizona: Fabian Durazo, a man accused of killing a pregnant Lyft driver and her unborn child pleaded not guilty to charges on Thursday.
According to court officials, 20-year-old Fabian Durazo pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, kidnapping, armed robbery and auto theft charges.
Durazo was arrested near Quartzsite, nearly 150 miles away from the Tempe apartment complex parking lot where 39-year-old Lyft driver Kristina Howato was stabbed.
Howato was in her third trimester of pregnancy and police say she and her unborn child died at a hospital.
Police believe Durazo planned to steal Howato’s SUV and she was killed in a struggle.
His next scheduled court appearance is for an initial pretrial conference on March 22.
EARLIER: Pregnant Lyft driver stabbed to death by rider in Arizona – Police
Fabian Durazo, a Lyft rider in suburban Phoenix stabbed his pregnant driver Kristina Howato, killing the woman and her unborn child before stealing her vehicle and driving nearly 150 miles before being arrested near the California line, authorities said Monday.
Tempe police said Kristina Howato, 39, was in her third trimester of pregnancy and is survived by two other young children.
They say Fabian Durazo, 20, was being held at a La Paz County jail on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder and one count each of kidnapping and armed robbery, authorities said.
It was unclear Monday if Durazo has a lawyer yet who could speak on his behalf.
Howato was working early Sunday as a Lyft driver when she received a pickup request in west Tempe, said Sgt. Ron Elcock, a police spokesman.
Durazo allegedly attacked Howato when they arrived at an apartment complex about a half-mile away and he fled in her SUV.
Police officers responded to the apartment complex about 1:30 a.m. after receiving reports of a woman screaming in the parking lot.
They found Howato suffering from multiple stab wounds. She was transported to a hospital where both she and the unborn baby died.
Arizona Department of Public Safety officials used GPS tracking to locate the stolen SUV on Interstate 10 near Quartzsite, about 25 miles (40 kilometres) from the Arizona-California line and Durazo was taken into custody Sunday afternoon.
Police said they don’t believe Durazo and Howato knew each other and a motive for the fatal stabbing remains undetermined.
“Throughout our careers as officers, we have incidents that really, really touch our hearts and stay with you throughout your careers,” Elcock said at a news conference. “This is definitely one of those incidents that really is going to affect the police department for a long time.”