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Masters' Arraignment Postponed : Court: Man in graffiti-vandal killing is given time to find an attorney to defend him on gun possession charges.

March 17, 1995|NICHOLAS RICCARDI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VAN NUYS — A Municipal Court judge Thursday postponed the arraignment on misdemeanor gun possession charges of William Andrew Masters II--whose killing of a graffiti vandal made him an anti-crime hero to some and a racist vigilante to others--to allow him time to find an attorney.

Masters, a sometime actor, writer and temporary office worker, said he is out of work and virtually broke, but hopes he will be able to obtain "funds through some private organization," which he declined to identify.

His other options, he said, are to attempt to obtain money from his parents or from businessmen he said have offered to start a defense fund.

Masters, 35, fatally shot Cesar Rene Arce, 18, during a confrontation with Arce and another tagger in Sun Valley about 1 a.m. Jan. 31.

Masters had written down the license plate number of the taggers' car, and said while trying to get the number back from him, Arce and his companion, David Hillo, tried to rob him and menaced him with a screwdriver. Masters shot Arce to death and wounded Hillo in a buttock.

Hillo, who has been charged with vandalism and a probation violation, denied that he or Arce had tried to rob Masters.

The district attorney decided not to bring murder or manslaughter charges, concluding that Masters fired in lawful self-defense. The city attorney's office, which prosecutes misdemeanors, then charged Masters with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and carrying a loaded weapon without a permit.

Masters faces up to 18 months in jail, but said Thursday he was not worried.

"The courts know the difference between criminal people and people who are frightened of crime and carry guns," Masters said, adding that friends who have faced similar charges have told him they received only a small fine.

"I expect that if found guilty, I will get the normal everyday sentence for a first-time offender."

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