Hearing Set for Youth in Slaying of Old Globe Actor

Times Staff Writer

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for April 12 in the case of 16-year-old Genaro Samano Villanueva, charged in the stabbing death of Old Globe actor David Oliver Huffman in a Balboa Park canyon two weeks ago.

Juvenile Court Judge Napoleon Jones Jr. ruled Thursday that Villanueva, an illegal alien, "poses a threat to the safety of others" and will be detained pending the hearing.

Wearing a gray shirt and faded blue jeans, Villanueva followed the five-minute proceeding with the help of an interpreter.

Public defender W. Allan Williams told the judge that Villanueva knows he's in for a wait before the trial: "He's aware he's in for a very long haul."

Deputy Dist. Atty. Harry M. Elias declined to reveal the amount of evidence against Villanueva: "I don't want to try the case in the paper." But the district attorney's office is seeking to have Villanueva tried for murder as an adult.

Huffman, 40, was stabbed to death--probably with a screwdriver--while chasing a man who had attempted to break into a van at the park, police have said.

On Monday night, Villanueva was booked into Juvenile Hall on one count of murder and one count of burglary after a state parole officer recognized him as a possible suspect from a police composite drawing, police said.

After the hearing, Williams described Villanueva as a "puppy dog" and said he "is really frightened (and) honestly doing what I told him to do: keep his mouth shut, don't get into fights, stay out of trouble."

Williams said it's too early to say whether he will seek a change of venue because of publicity surrounding the case. But he added that the publicity has greatly concerned him, observing that local TV commentator "Michael Tuck's harangue on TV the other night about the lax juvenile justice system was completely uncalled for."

Villanueva stutters and is "real quiet, real soft, real shy," county defense investigator Peggy Torralva said.

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