The Los Angeles County district attorney's office said Monday that it will seek to have a 17-year-old boy tried as an adult in last week's slaying of his father, Filipino newspaper executive Oscar Salvatierra.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Antoinette Brown said a formal charge of first-degree murder was filed Monday in Pasadena Superior Court against the youth, Arnel Salvatierra, who was arrested Thursday night with his 18-year-old girlfriend in the fatal shooting of the older Salvatierra in the bedroom of his Glendale home last Wednesday.
The charge included an enhancement for use of a firearm, which could increase the possible prison term of 27 years to life by two years if Arnel is tried as an adult, Brown said.
Officials in the district attorney's Glendale office said that they expected to file charges against the girlfriend, Teressa Kay Deburger, this morning and that her arraignment will be held a few hours after that in Glendale Municipal Court. The paper work was not completed in time for filing Monday evening.
As for the boy, Brown said, "our contention is that he should go to an adult court and be tried as an adult."
His arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. today before Pasadena Juvenile Court Commissioner Robert B. Axel. Brown said she will ask at that time that a hearing be set to determine whether Arnel can be tried as an adult.
The hearing will probably not take place for several weeks, Brown said. She said that will complicate her wish to have the two suspects tried together, because Deburger is an adult and proceedings against her presumably will be moving along, while a determination is made in the boy's case.
Attorney Leslie Abramson, who with co-counsel Marcia Ann Morrissey represents the Salvatierra boy, said she did not see how the two could be tried together, but she declined to elaborate.
Abramson said she does not intend to petition at today's arraignment for Arnel's release pending further hearings, because she has not yet seen the pertinent files on the case.
'He's a Kid'
She said, however, that she wants to keep him out of the adult court because, "he's a kid."
"He has absolutely no criminal record," Abramson said. "Just a non-delinquent kid."
She added, "So far, I haven't seen any evidence that he's done anything."
Brown said the fitness hearing will dwell on the boy's background and whether he has ever been in trouble with the law before. She declined to comment on that aspect.
If Arnel remains under jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court, she said, the maximum sentence he would face upon conviction for murder would be to remain in custody of the California Youth Authority until he is 25.
If he is certified as an adult, she pointed out, he could be transferred to the prison system from Youth Authority when he reaches his majority.
The killing of the boy's father, the 41-year-old marketing director for the San Francisco-based Philippine News, initially stirred widespread speculation that he had been killed for political reasons, because the newspaper has opposed Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos. The victim had received a pasted-up death threat suggesting that.
However, Glendale police announced on Friday that they had arrested the son and his girlfriend, both Glendale High School seniors. Police Chief David J. Thompson said officers learned that there had been "a long-standing hatred by the son toward the father."
Meanwhile, a Glendale police source dismissed speculation that Oscar Salvatierra had beaten his son.
"There is no indication of that," the source, a detective, said.
The boy remained Monday at Eastlake Juvenile Hall, while Deburger was in the Glendale City Jail.