PALMDALE – A convicted murderer who was freed from jail last November after his case was sent back to juvenile court was charged Thursday with a new series of crimes, including leading Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies on a chase in Palmdale.
Andrew Cachu — charged now under the name Andres Benjamin Cachu* — pleaded not guilty to one felony count each of fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle and driving against traffic, possession of a firearm by a felon, possession for sale of methamphetamine and possession for sale of cocaine, along with one misdemeanor count each of driving under the influence of a drug, possession of a controlled substance with a firearm and possession of cannabis for sale.
The new charges stem from an incident that occurred Tuesday, July 19, around 5:20 p.m. near the intersection of 30th Street East and Avenue R in Palmdale. [Read more here.] Palmdale deputies received a call that a driver had passed out at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta, and responding deputies reportedly saw Cachu slumped over the steering wheel and knocked on his window in an effort to awaken him, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Deputies allegedly observed a firearm in Cachu’s waistband and said he appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance when he was awakened. Cachu allegedly tried to flee from deputies until he drove into a curb and ultimately surrendered, according to the District Attorney’s Office. The criminal complaint in connection with Tuesday’s incident also includes allegations that Cachu was previously convicted in October 2016 of murder and robbery.
Cachu, now 25, was convicted in the March 31, 2015, shooting death of Louis Amela — a 41-year-man who was shot twice in the back outside Sky Burgers on the 1800 block of East Palmdale Boulevard. Amela was fatally shot after getting into a fight with assailants who were trying to steal his bicycle, homicide detectives said.
Cachu was prosecuted as an adult and was serving a 50-year-to- life state prison sentence for the killing. He was released from jail Nov. 10, 2021, after a state appeals court panel ordered that the case be sent back for a hearing to determine if the case should be handled in juvenile court or adult court as a result of a change in state law because Cachu was 17 at the time of the crime.
The appellate court panel noted in a 2-1 ruling that Cachu’s convictions would be deemed to be juvenile adjudications if no motion for a fitness hearing was filed by the prosecution.
In a statement after the latest charges were filed, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said of the murder case, “Based upon the facts of the case and the individual characteristics of Mr. Cachu, we determined that we would not likely prevail in a transfer hearing because we could not prove that he would not have benefited from juvenile resources at the time of the original offense — again, as the law requires. We asked the court to remand Mr. Cachu to the Department of Juvenile Justice and that request was denied. We are frustrated to see that he is struggling, and again, will hold him accountable for the charged offenses.”
Gascón — who is the target of a recall effort — noted that “we are disappointed to learn that Mr. Cachu has not availed himself of the support that he so clearly needs, grateful that no physical harm came to anyone and are committed to holding him accountable as an adult in this case.”
Attorney Kathleen Cady, who represented Amela’s family last year in an effort to keep Cachu behind bars, said Thursday that Gascón’s policies and the actions of his special adviser, Alisa Blair, “are the ones who must be held accountable.”
Cachu is jailed on $1.33 million bail while awaiting a hearing on Aug. 1 to determine if there is sufficient evidence to allow the new case against him to proceed to trial.
*The defendant was charged in the murder case as Andrew Cachu, however, the new case lists his name as Andres Benjamin Cachu.
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