Man busted for smoking in subway charged with 2020 Queens murder

A murder suspect was nabbed when he was stopped for smoking in the subway by NYPD cops who then quickly discovered he was being sought for a 2020 Queens slaying, police said Monday.

On Friday, transit cops in Brooklyn stopped Luis Hernandez, 36, for smoking. He would have been released with just a summons but when officers ran his name they learned he was wanted for murder.

He was taken to Queens, where detectives showed him video and photos of him at the murder scene on 31st St. near 36th Ave. in Astoria, police said.

Police say Hernandez and three or four others were involved in the Feb. 9, 2020, murder of Richard Hernandez, 21.

The suspect made incriminating statements, police said, and was charged with murder, gang assault and weapon possession.

“Mr. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty and fully intends on fighting the charges against him,” his lawyer, Mahmoud Rabah, told the Daily News Monday.

“There appears to be no scientific evidence or even physical evidence to support the charges. My client was questioned for hours when he was arrested Friday and emphatically denied stabbing anyone.”

The case, Rabah added, “rests on poor quality, grainy, and unclear surveillance video.”

Hernandez, who lives in Maspeth and has no prior arrests, was ordered held without bail when he was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Sunday.

“Mr. Hernandez is a committed father of a young child,” Rabah said. “He is a hard-working immigrant who has held a stable job in a meat processing plant for years. He completely maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court.”

The victim, who is not related to the suspect, was with friends when a brawl erupted, with witnesses telling the Daily News at least one attacker had a machete and another had a knife.

The victim, who lived a few blocks away from where he was killed, was stabbed and slashed with more than one weapon. Medics rushed him to Mount Sinai Queens but he could not be saved.

Three other men were cut in the melee but suffered only minor wounds, police said at the time.

The attack was linked to gangs, police said Monday.

The suspect’s accomplices are still being sought.