The man accused of gunning down a rookie Burbank Police officer
appeared in court for the first time Tuesday, coming face to face
with the family of Matthew Pavelka, his colleagues and possibly the
Judge Patrick J. Hegardy delayed the arraignment for David A.
Garcia, 19, of Sun Valley, until Dec. 23 at the request of the public
defender representing the murder suspect, who is being held without
bail at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles.
Pavelka’s mother, Billie Sue, fought back tears and sought the
comfort of his girlfriend, Jessica DiCristina, minutes before the
court proceeding began. Garcia, dressed in orange prison fatigues,
glanced at his father, Ernest, and a brother after prison guards
escorted him into the courtroom, but did not make eye contact with
anyone else in the crowded gallery.
Also present Tuesday in Burbank Superior Court were about 25
Burbank Police officers who glared at Garcia during the short
“We’re here to see the person who killed our partner,” Capt. Tim
Stehr said. "[We] wanted to see what he looked like, how he acts.”
“It was just an arraignment, but it was also a form of closure for
us,” added Sgt. William Berry, the department’s spokesman.
Garcia is charged with murder and attempted murder in the Nov. 15
shootout that killed Pavelka and critically injured veteran Officer
Gregory Campbell. Additionally, Garcia faces special-circumstance
allegations for the murder of a peace officer in the line of duty,
and murder for the purpose of avoiding arrest -- charges that could
make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
The alleged gang member is also charged with transportation of
methamphetamine and possession of a machine gun and an assault rifle.
The felony complaint alleged that Garcia used armor-piercing
ammunition and that the crimes were gang related.
Police, aided by several law-enforcement agencies, had tirelessly
searched for Garcia since the shootout in the north parking lot of
Ramada Inn at 2900 N. San Fernando Blvd. Garcia’s accomplice,
25-year-old Ramon Aranda, was also killed in the gun battle.
After a 12-day search, Garcia was captured in Tijuana by Mexican
authorities on Thanksgiving and extradited to Burbank.