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VALLEY ROUNDUP | North Hills

Suspect to Be Arraigned in Student's Slaying

July 30, 1999|ART MARROQUIN

An 18-year-old man arrested last week in the fatal shooting of a Monroe High School student is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on murder charges, the district attorney's office said Thursday.

Charges were filed this week against Luis Acosta of Panorama City in the slaying of Giovanni Avelar, who was shot July 21 near a Catholic church in North Hills while walking home from school, said Det. Abel Parga of the Los Angeles Police Department's Devonshire Division.

Acosta is being held at the North County Correctional Facility in Saugus on $1.5-million bail, Parga said. Acosta will enter a plea during his arraignment at the San Fernando courthouse, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

Acosta, a suspected gang member, was arrested July 23 for allegedly killing Avelar in the 9100 block of Langdon Avenue. Detectives are still searching for a second suspect connected to the slaying.

"We're having difficulty in identifying the second suspect because witnesses are also having a hard time in identifying him," Parga said.

Avelar, 17, was shot walking home from year-round Monroe High, where he was a junior. Police and family members believe he was killed because he was not a gang member.

Avelar had just started work at a fast-food eatery the week before the shooting and stuffed advertisements into the Los Angeles Times on weekends to help support his family.

A march and rally were held Wednesday near the murder scene along Langdon Avenue as a testament to Avelar's memory and in protest of the violence in this crime-plagued neighborhood.

His body was flown back to his native El Salvador on Tuesday to be buried next to that of his father.

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