Robert John Bardo, accused killer of actress Rebecca Schaeffer, was ordered Tuesday to stand trial for her slaying after several witnesses testified at a preliminary hearing that they saw him flee her Fairfax District apartment after the shooting.
Municipal Court Judge David M. Horwitz set arraignment for Bardo, 19, for Dec. 11. The judge also upheld a special-circumstances charge--lying in wait--that would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty if Bardo is found guilty on the first-degree murder charge.
Schaeffer, best known as the co-star of the television series "My Sister Sam," was shot once in the chest July 18 as she stood in the doorway of her residence. She died at the scene.
Bardo was arrested in Tucson a day later. He was taken into custody after police found him darting in and out of traffic, apparently in a suicide attempt. Police said he later led them to a bloody shirt and copy of J. D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye."
In a hotly contested move, two Los Angeles police officers brought Bardo from Arizona to Los Angeles in mid-August. Although the defense called the extradition illegal, an appeals court judge upheld the action.
The judge's order Tuesday followed nearly 5 1/2 hours of testimony by 10 prosecution witnesses, most of whom said they either heard the fatal gunshot or saw Bardo near Schaeffer's apartment before or immediately after the shooting.
"I was on the phone near the window when I heard a scream," said Francois Lesourd, a witness who lived across the street. "I walked to the kitchen window and to the living room window, and I saw (Bardo) running out from the door across the street."
Lesourd said Bardo, whom witnesses described as wearing flip-flop shoes, was running "funny" in an effort to keep his shoes on his feet. At least six other witnesses testified that they saw Bardo leave the scene.
Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Marcia Clark also called as a witness the manager of a detective agency that Bardo allegedly hired to find Schaeffer's address.
"He said he wanted to send her a gift," said Anthony Zinkus, the manager. "He said (Schaeffer) might be somewhere in the L.A. area and that she had connections with the television business. He showed me a black-and-white, 8-by-10 photo."
Zinkus' agency later obtained the address from the Department of Motor Vehicles, a move that recently prompted legislators to tighten regulations regarding the release of DMV information to the public.
Another witness, Lynne Marta, said she heard the shooting as she stood in an apartment down the hall from Schaeffer's.
"The door shook, the wall shook," said Marta, whose apartment was only a few feet away from where Schaeffer was slain. "The cat went up into the air. I fell to my knees and crawled into the bedroom. Then, I heard Rebecca's first scream."
Marta said she called 911 after she heard the gunshot.
"She was still screaming while I was talking to 911," said Marta. "By the time I got to the door, she was wailing. I opened the small hatch in my door. There was a smell I'll never forget: the smell of gunfire. It was quiet except for light moaning."