Police make arrest in Hamilton Street death

Police on Wednesday arrested a homeless man suspected of slaying a Costa Mesa resident who was working on renovations at a sober-living home earlier this week.

Christopher Ernest Leovy, 34, of Los Angeles, used a heavy, blunt object to bludgeon to death the handyman outside the vacant property at 536 Hamilton St. early Monday, police said in a news release.

Police found the weapon but declined to say what it is.

The victim, John Gerard Kubat, 54, was renovating the three-unit complex in preparation for it opening as a sober-living home, police said, adding that the property previously housed a similar facility.

“The guy shows up for work. Obviously there was some confrontation that took place for whatever reason,” Costa Mesa Lt. Paul Dondero said. “And somebody didn’t like that confrontation and got the better hand.”

Dondero said detectives haven’t located any witnesses, and Leovy has not explained his motive.

There was no known previous connection between Leovy and Kubat, according to the lieutenant.

A representative of the sober-living facility showed up later Monday morning to check on Kubat’s work and found his body in the property’s gated driveway, police said.

As they investigated, police identified Leovy as a person of interest, according to the department’s statement.

Leovy had occasional brushes with law enforcement after he arrived in Costa Mesa from Los Angeles some time early this year.

He was cited or arrested earlier this year for being present in a park after dark and for falsely representing himself to a police officer, a misdemeanor, according to Orange County Superior Court records.

Leovy recently spent about two weeks behind bars, according to jail records, but officials released him Sept. 6, the same day the misdemeanor charge against him was dismissed.

Police believe Leovy was a client at a local sober-living facility before becoming homeless.

On Wednesday evening, police found Leovy in Wilson Park and tried to talk to him, but he ran and struggled with officers when they caught up with him, according to the news release.

Officers took him into custody on suspicion of assaulting a peace officer and later booked him on suspicion of murder, police said.

Leovy is being held on $1-million bail in Orange County Jail.

Police are withholding further details and a picture of Leovy as they continue to investigate.

The department has encouraged anyone with more information to call Det. Sgt. Ed Everett at (714) 754-5395 or Det. Bang Le at (714) 754-5361.