A court hearing Monday to determine whether a Moorpark youth charged with murder should be tried as a juvenile or an adult was continued until Nov. 28 after the high school junior's attorney asked for more time to prepare his case.
About 30 friends and relatives of 17-year-old William (Billy) Cardiel, including his parents and younger brother, attended the brief proceeding in Ventura Superior Court in a show of support for the Moorpark High School student. Cardiel smiled broadly when he saw the group in the courtroom, then hugged and kissed his mother and father before being led away by sheriff's deputies.
Cardiel is charged with murder in connection with the fatal beating July 13 of Chester Lawson, 59. He has been held in Ventura County's juvenile detention facility since his arrest Aug. 28.
Lawson, who performed odd jobs around the city, was widely known in Moorpark for his drinking bouts and temper, authorities said. Just weeks before his death, Lawson was jailed for threatening a store clerk with a box cutter.
All sides agree that Cardiel struck Lawson with a board. But the youth's attorney, Charles R. English of Santa Monica, has said Cardiel acted to protect a friend during a confrontation with Lawson. Cardiel has no criminal record, authorities have said.
During Monday's hearing, English told Judge Barbara A. Lane that he had listened to a series of tape recorded interviews conducted by sheriff's investigators and was still reviewing medical evidence. English said later he was hiring a pathologist to analyze the injuries described in Lawson's autopsy report.
The tapes, he said, include interviews with people who had confrontations with Lawson.
Supporters of Cardiel said they have raised about $3,500 for a legal defense fund.