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Alleged cop killer in court

Jackson Bell

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


death penalty.

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.