Defendant knows who killed S. Lake man, says prosecution
May 19, 2005
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – Joel Bravo was killed by a gunshot to the head during an argument about a drug transaction in a small apartment in the Bijou area here, according to a 20-year-old accused of hiding the murderer.
Javier Acevedo Garcia sat in El Dorado County Superior Court wearing headphones connected to a Spanish interpreter during his preliminary hearing Thursday.
Garcia, arrested March 17, is charged with felony accessory to murder by prosecutors who believe Garcia has intimate knowledge of who killed Bravo, 23, on Jan. 18 in Bravo’s rented unit at Blackwood Apartments at 3546 Spruce Ave.
He is being held without bail in El Dorado County Jail. Garcia faces a maximum of three years in prison if convicted.
Bravo, who used the alias Elijah Deluna, was a drug dealer who had at least three stolen cars from Carson City parked outside his apartment, police said.
No one has been charged in his death.
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“(Garcia) knows how the murder took place and is concealing or harboring the person who did it,” said El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Tony Sears.
Testimony by South Lake Tahoe police Detective Brad Williams, Thursday’s lone witness in a hearing that evaluates evidence, said Garcia gave at least three different versions of events to authorities.
In the initial interview, Garcia said he had not seen or spoken to Bravo in two weeks. In subsequent accounts, Garcia revealed he had been inside the apartment at the moment of Bravo’s death with several other people, with either Bravo’s 16-year-old roommate pulling the handgun’s trigger or a man with Garcia who vowed to obtain drugs “one way or another,” Williams said.
In both cases, Garcia said he wasn’t in the bedroom where and when the murder took place.
Bravo was found by authorities lying straight on the floor after they received a report of Bravo’s death six hours after the gun fired.
Defense attorney Lori London said her client provided authorities a comprehensive and exact version of what transpired in the third and fourth interviews.
Garcia was in the apartment for a drug deal gone bad when he heard the gunshot and became “scared to death,” she said.
In addition, London said the prosecution was ambiguous, or doesn’t know, who the murderer is and thus unsure of who Garcia might be hiding.
“I think the people need to establish who he’s harboring,” she said.
Judge Suzanne Kingsbury determined that there was enough evidence for Garcia to continue with a court process and set an arraignment for June 2 at 8 a.m.
Bravo’s death was the first murder in South Lake Tahoe since September 2001 when 9-year-old Rebbeca Aramburo’s throat was slashed inside a tent during a standoff at Campground by the Lake.
A jury later convicted Lisa Platz, Rebbeca’s mother, for the murder.
Two other cases are being investigated by police as homicides. One involves a missing 43-year-old woman named Bobette Ulrich, while the other is the death of a real estate agent whose body was found in the bathroom of his house after a fire.
– Contact reporter William Ferchland at firstname.lastname@example.org.