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Man Describes Murder Suspect as Polite

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A prosecution witness testified Wednesday that he took a wrong turn into the Middle Lions Campground on March 4 and encountered a Port Hueneme 20-year-old who authorities say had just slain a Simi Valley man and his dog.

Although Timothy Chrestman seemed anxious to get rid of him, Reynaldo Gutierrez testified in Ventura County Superior Court, the defendant was polite and there were no signs that a violent act had taken place.

After he got out of his vehicle to use the restroom, Gutierrez said, Chrestman struck up a conversation with him that appeared designed to discourage Gutierrez from staying at the campground in the mountains above Ojai.

Chrestman said the trout were small and that a bear and a mountain lion had been seen in the area the previous two nights, Gutierrez testified.

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“Did you get the impression that he didn’t want you to stay there?” asked Deputy Dist. Atty. Bob Calvert.

Gutierrez answered yes, adding that he left and met his family at a nearby campground. Four days later, after seeing Chrestman on television news being arraigned on the murder charge, Gutierrez phoned the Sheriff’s Department and reported the chance meeting.

“I recognized him immediately,” Gutierrez said.

Chrestman, 20, faces charges of murder, robbery and other felony counts in the death of 24-year-old Andy Lee Anderson of Simi Valley. The prosecution contends that the defendant shot Anderson and his dog to steal the victim’s truck.

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But defense attorney Steve Pell has told the jury that Chrestman was set up by two gang members--one named Angel or Angelo--who are the actual culprits.

On cross-examination during a hearing outside the presence of the jury, Pell showed Gutierrez a photo of a bearded man. Gutierrez identified the man as a former co-worker named Angel but said he did not know much else about him.

Pell then asked Superior Court Judge Charles W. Campbell to order prosecutors to supply the defense with a picture of that man without a beard, apparently suggesting he might be a suspect.

But Campbell refused to issue such an order, saying he was not willing to help the defense with “a fishing expedition” that would only waste court time.

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Chrestman told Gutierrez that he had been camping for about a week, Gutierrez said. He described Chrestman as looking “very dirty.”

Gutierrez said he saw the truck that he later learned was Anderson’s. But he said he did not see Anderson, the dog or any blood or guns.

He also said he was not paying much attention to his surroundings because he had stopped at that campground by mistake and was in a hurry to leave after using the restroom.

The prosecution’s case will continue today.

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