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Angeles County | Community News File / Burbank

Teenager to Be Tried as an Adult in Student's Death

October 30, 1998

A teenager accused of fatally stabbing a 17-year-old summer school classmate--the first slaying on a Burbank school campus--will be tried as an adult, a judge has ruled.

Erik Favela was found unfit to be tried as a juvenile by Pasadena Juvenile Judge Raymond Morales. Favela appeared Wednesday in Burbank Municipal Court for arraignment, which was delayed until Nov. 10 at his attorney's request.

Favela was 16 on July 10 when he allegedly killed John Burroughs High School senior Adam Smith, who was attending summer classes with him at Burbank High school. Witnesses said Favela was angry that Smith made insulting remarks about Favela's girlfriend, who had also dated Smith.

During the fitness hearing, defense attorney Barry O. Bernstein argued unsuccessfully that Favela could not be tried as an adult until the juvenile court first determined his sanity at the time of the offense.

"I've got a 17-year-old client with a head injury that causes an uncontrollable rage response," Bernstein said. "That's sufficient enough to raise the issue [that Favela was] not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of commission of the alleged offense."

But Deputy Dist. Atty. Laura Foland-Priver contended that Favela was spoiling for a fight with Smith.

"The defendant was upset with the victim because he wouldn't fight," Foland-Priver said. The victim "did what every parent tells their child to do [in a fight], to walk away. And for that he got stabbed."

Favela allegedly followed Smith down a path leading to a parking lot where he stabbed Smith in the chest and abdomen.

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