MODESTO, Calif. (AP) — A California man with a criminal record was free on bail when prosecutors say he shot and killed a sheriff's deputy in the line of duty, according to charges filed Tuesday.
David Machado, 37, is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Stanislaus County Sheriff's Deputy Dennis Wallace on Sunday near Modesto, then stealing a car to drive 150 miles to a small town where he was arrested after trying to steal a woman's purse.
The charges make Machado eligible for a death sentence. Prosecutors in the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office, however, have not said what punishment they intend to seek. Machado is expected in court Tuesday to hear the charges for the first time.
Machado is also charged with first-degree robbery, carjacking and being a felon in possession of a gun. He had been convicted in 2009 of a felony for possessing a dangerous weapon, the complaint says, without specifying the type of weapon.
More recently, he posted bail after being arrested and charged with being the felon in possession of a firearm. Machado failed to appear for trial Oct. 31, said Chief Deputy District Attorney John Goold, adding that he did not know the bail amount. Wallace was killed two weeks later.
Wallace, a 20-year veteran of the sheriff's department, came upon a parked van and reported it to dispatchers. It came back as stolen, so Wallace asked for backup. Fellow deputies found Wallace shot twice in the head.
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson has called the deputy's killing an "execution."
Machado was arrested four hours later in the small Central California town of Lindsay, after a woman fought him off in an attempted purse-snatching and called for help, authorities have said.
Prosecutors expect that Machado will be assigned a public defender to represent him in the case.