A 19-year-old Port Hueneme man who may face the death penalty in the March slaying of a Simi Valley man committed the crime to steal the victim's truck, a prosecutor said Monday.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael K. Frawley's comments outside court reveal for the first time prosecutors' theory of why Andy Lee Anderson, 24, and his Australian shepherd, Sheila, were gunned down at an Ojai campground.
Timothy Chrestman was indicted for murder and four other charges Friday by the Ventura County grand jury. The murder charge included a special circumstance--robbery--making Chrestman eligible for the death penalty.
An arraignment for Chrestman on Monday was postponed until June 21 to allow a defense attorney time to review a transcript of the grand jury proceedings in the case.
Deputy Public Defender Howard J. Asher said the extra time also will allow prosecutors time to decide whether to seek the death penalty against Chrestman.
"That certainly gives them a month to do background checks and determine what penalty they want," Asher said outside court.
Frawley, however, said the decision whether to seek a date with the gas chamber for Chrestman may not be made until well after the arraignment. He said his office is still investigating the defendant's background.
In addition to murder, the grand jury charged Chrestman with robbery, grand theft, animal cruelty and petty theft.
The petty theft charge was filed in connection with a pair of binoculars Chrestman stole from his own father after he killed Anderson, Frawley said.
After Anderson was slain, Chrestman took the victim's 1987 pickup truck and planned to use it to leave the area, Frawley said. But the defendant was arrested at Zuma Beach in Los Angeles County before he could leave, authorities said.
Frawley called Anderson's death senseless.
"He was murdered for a truck," the prosecutor said. "A truck is not worth killing someone for, but it was to this fellow."
Frawley said Chrestman, who lived with his parents, wanted to leave Port Hueneme. He said Chrestman apparently had robbery in mind when he went to the Lion's Campground near the Rose Valley Recreation Area in March.
"He wanted to leave town," Frawley said. "And he saw Andy with the truck."
Anderson had been at the campground fishing.
Authorities said Chrestman shot Anderson in the neck around noon on May 4, as the Simi Valley man stood next to his truck preparing to drive home from a half-day fishing trip. Chrestman then shot the dog, they said.
Chrestman has one criminal conviction on his record, authorities said. He was found guilty of misdemeanor drug possession last year.
Typically, the prosecutor trying a murder case--in which a special circumstance has been alleged--meets with senior district attorney's officials to decide whether to seek the death penalty after the background check on the defendant is completed.
Ventura County Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury makes the final decision on the issue, Frawley said.