Walden Transfer Among Changes in D.A.'s Office

Times Staff Writer

Several supervisorial reassignments in the San Diego County district attorney’s office have been announced--including the transfer of the chief prosecutor in the Vista office to a post in San Diego.

Phil Walden, 45, who had worked in the Vista district attorney’s office since 1978 and who served as its supervising prosecutor since 1981, will become chief of the district attorney’s Municipal Court division in San Diego next week, Steve Casey, spokesman for Dist. Atty. Edwin Miller, said Tuesday.

Walden will succeed Don MacNeil, who will replace Walden in Vista.

Rupert Linley, who was the supervising prosecutor for the Superior Court operations in Vista, is being transferred to the El Cajon branch of the district attorney’s office, where he will supervise Superior Court cases.


His post in Vista will be taken over by Bob Sullivan, who, for 11 years, has specialized in fraud prosecutions.

And Joan Stein, the assistant chief of the district attorney’s complaints and extraditions division in San Diego, will take the newly created post of supervisor of the Municipal Court operations in Vista.

Stein, who had previously served in Vista, is perhaps best-known as co-counsel with Paul Pfingst in the successful prosecution last year of former California Highway Patrol Officer Craig Peyer for the murder of college student Cara Knott.

Most prominent among the new assignments was the transfer of Walden to San Diego. “Mr. Miller rotates his people, and Phil is probably a couple of years overdue for rotation,” Casey said.


In Vista, Walden had headed a staff of 32 prosecutors--virtually the size of the entire San Diego County district attorney’s office 22 years ago. In San Diego, Walden will oversee a relatively young staff of about a dozen prosecutors who handle the initial filings of felonies, preliminary hearings and plea bargains.

Perhaps Walden’s most notorious case in Vista was the prosecution of Laura Troiani and five former Marines for the murder of Carlo Troiani in 1984. Laura Troiani was convicted of first-degree murder with special circumstances of killing for financial gain and ambush, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

MacNeil, described as more reserved than the sometimes flamboyant Walden, joined the district attorney’s office in 1974 and was initially assigned to Vista. He later moved to San Diego, where he did Municipal and Superior court prosecutions and appellate court work before being named to head the Chula Vista branch office. In October, 1987, he began supervising prosecutions in San Diego Municipal Court, the job he is now swapping with Walden.