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UPDATE: This just in from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office

Life sentence for man in murder of Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka; adds details throughout

Posted: July 24, 2012 11:46 a.m.
Updated: July 24, 2012 11:55 a.m.


LOS ANGELES – The man charged in the murder of Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka and the attempted murder of another officer was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to all counts in connection with the 2003 killing.

Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry accepted the plea of David A. Garcia, 28, (dob 1-6-84) and imposed the sentence at a hearing this morning. Garcia pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of Officer Pavelka and the attempted willful, deliberate, and premeditated murder of Officer Gregory Campbell. Garcia also pleaded guilty to one count of transportation of methamphetamine, two counts each of possession of a machine gun and possession of an assault weapon and one count of possession of a silencer.

In addition, Garcia admitted two special circumstance allegations: the murder victim was a peace officer engaged in the performance of his duties; and the murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest. Garcia was indicted in 2004.

“We are pleased the defendant has admitted responsibility for these heinous crimes,” District Attorney Steve Cooley said today. “We hope this resolution provides some measure of justice for the brutal murder of Officer Matthew Pavelka and the attempted murder of Officer Gregory Campbell.”

The shooting occurred on Nov. 15, 2003, in a Ramada Inn parking lot near Burbank Airport. Officer Campbell was on patrol and saw two men sitting in a car without license plates in an area then known for drug and gang-related activity. Campbell radioed for assistance and Pavelka arrived.

Garcia and Ramon Aranda, 25, began firing on the officers, police said. Both officers were hit. Pavelka, 26, was killed and Campbell was seriously wounded.

Aranda was killed. Garcia fled and was arrested in Tijuana on Thanksgiving Day 2003 following an extensive manhunt.

The District Attorney’s Office announced in 2004 that it intended to seek the death penalty against Garcia. In exchange for Garcia’s plea and the life without the possibility of parole sentence today, prosecutors agreed to not pursue the death penalty, said Head Deputy William Hodgman of the Target Crimes Division.

Deputy District Attorneys F.M. Tavelman, John Colello and Keri Modder of the Crimes Against Peace Officers Section (CAPOS) of the District Attorney’s Office handled the prosecution of Garcia. CAPOS is a special prosecution unit responsible for prosecuting those violent offenders who kill or attempt to kill peace officers in the performance of their duties.

Garcia was indicted in 2005 in federal court on multiple charges related to street gang activity. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California is prosecuting Garcia and others for those offenses.


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