A suspect charged with murder, attempted murder and torture in connection with an incident in West Hollywood last year in which sheriff’s deputies mistakenly shot and killed a victim was in court Tuesday for a pretrial hearing.
The defendant, Alexander McDonald, 29, is accused of initiating the circumstances that led to the shooting by sheriff’s deputies on April 7, 2014, at an apartment building at 939 Palm Ave. He is charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of torture. McDonald has remained in custody since April 2014 and is being held on $4 million bail.
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Richard Santiago said the pretrial proceedings were continued to July 29. He said it is common for the hearings to occur over multiple dates because attorneys and prosecutors are going over evidence that will be used in the case. The hearings are a precursor to a trial.
McDonald is accused of starting a chain of events that led to deputies shooting John Winkler, a 30-year-old man who was visiting an apartment on Palm Avenue that McDonald shared with a roommate. Shortly before the shooting, McDonald had gone to the apartment of a female neighbor, who told police he was acting erratically. McDonald allegedly armed himself with a kitchen knife, and the resident called 911. The suspect subsequently returned to his apartment before deputies arrived.
McDonald allegedly attacked his roommate, Winkler and another man who was visiting the apartment. Deputies gathered outside the apartment and were preparing to enter when a man who was bleeding profusely from his neck ran out the door, followed by Winkler.
Deputies shot and killed Winkler and shot and wounded the unidentified other man.
Deputies then entered the apartment and found McDonald struggling with his roommate and took him into custody. A knife was recovered at the scene. The charges against McDonald stipulate that his actions led to the death of Winkler. No motive for the attack has been disclosed.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department authorities said Winkler’s death was an accident, and the county has reached an undisclosed settlement with the Winkler family. Sim Osborn, an attorney for the Winkler family, said more information about the settlement will likely be available in the next couple of weeks.
Winkler had moved to Los Angeles from Seattle and was working as a production assistant on the show “Tosh.0” at the time of his death.
The deputies involved in the shooting returned to duty shortly after the incident.
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