Woman charged with murder after allegedly running over a man she thought was killing a cat

A woman's booking photo
Hannah Star Esser, 20, has been charged with murder after running over a man she believed had tried to kill a cat in Cypress.
(Orange County district attorney’s office)

Enraged by what she believed was an attempted cat murder, a 20-year-old woman ran over a man with her Honda Civic in Cypress, killing him, according to prosecutors.

On Tuesday, Orange County prosecutors charged Hannah Star Esser with murder in the death of Victor Anthony Luis, 43.

Prosecutors had earlier said the victim’s name was Luis Anthony Victor.

Esser was driving near Oak Knoll Park on the night of Sept. 25 when she thought she saw a man trying to run over a cat with an SUV, according to prosecutors.


She confronted the man, according to prosecutors, filming her profanity-laced tirade on her cellphone.

During the argument on the 9700 block of Graham Street at around 8:30 p.m., both Esser and the man, identified by prosecutors as Luis, got out of their cars.

Esser got back in her car, “made a U-turn, accelerated and drove directly at” Luis, prosecutors said in a news release.

She struck him with the right front of her car, launching him onto the hood and windshield before he flipped several times and landed in the street, according to prosecutors. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cypress police arrested Esser later that night.

Prosecutors are reviewing surveillance video from nearby residences as well as Esser’s cellphone video.

Luis died in front of the apartment building where he lived, according to family members. They are raising funds for funeral expenses and released a statement through a representative, Tony Ferguson.


“We are devastated by the loss of Victor, a beloved father of five daughters, a treasured son, brother, friend, and cousin,” the statement said. “This senseless act of violence has robbed the world of a bright light who will never be forgotten.”

Esser faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life if convicted. Prosecutors believe she did not know Luis.

“This action showed a complete disregard for human life,” Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said in the news release, calling the crime “a random act of violence targeting a stranger.”

Esser is in jail on $1 million bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 13.


5:21 p.m. Sept. 28, 2022: This article was updated with information from Victor Anthony Luis’ family.