Two Burbank men pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder charges in the death of a 25-year-old missing Glendale man whose body was discovered in a shallow grave in the Angeles National Forest.
Donald Thurman, 26, and Erik Pearson, 21, each face one felony count of murder in the death of Nicholas Carter, according to a Los Angeles County criminal complaint.
Prosecutors allege Thurman and Pearson beat Carter to death and then dumped his body in the forest. They then stole his credit cards, according to a statement from Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
Thurman had initially been arrested Jan. 24 on an outstanding warrant for grand theft, and he already faces nearly a dozen charges in connection with allegedly embezzling $28,820 from the Boy Scouts Verdugo Hills Council in Glendale in 2011.
Pearson, who was arrested Feb. 8 on suspicion of murder, has three jobs — a driver at Pearson Water Tenders in Victorville, a valet driver at Towne Park Valet and a porter at Community Chevrolet in Burbank, according to his Google profile.
Glendale police logged a missing persons report for Carter about 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 — a day before Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide detectives and search-and-rescue teams discovered his body near Big Tujunga Canyon Road at mile marker 2.72.
Coroner’s officials later determined that Carter died of blunt force trauma.
Carter, who didn’t have a car and lived with a roommate, was last seen on the evening of Jan. 7 watching a football game with a friend. That same day, Carter posted a link to a video for the rapper Gunplay at 6:13 p.m. on his Facebook account.
The following afternoon on Jan. 8, a hiker reported finding a shallow grave, but detectives didn’t find a body inside. It wasn’t until more than a week later that authorities discovered Carter’s buried body, not far from the initial grave site.
As the investigation into his death unfolded, authorities described Carter as a “normal guy” who didn’t have a criminal history. He studied business management economics at UC Santa Cruz, according to his Facebook page.
Thurman and Pearson are scheduled to appear in court March 12 to set their preliminary hearing.
-- Veronica Rocha, Times Community News