The Journal Gazette
Saturday, July 25, 2020 1:00 am

Beating trial delayed over video

Lawyer says footage may help defendant in 2018 motel death

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

Video evidence could clear a man charged with beating his girlfriend to death at a local motel more than two years ago, his lawyer said Friday.

David A. Fabela, 37, is charged with murder in the May 15, 2018, slaying, and jury selection for a three-day trial was to begin Monday. A judge pushed it back to Nov. 30 after defense attorney Ryan Gardner asked for more time to review surveillance video gathered by prosecutors.

“We believe there might be some exculpatory evidence on the video,” Gardner said during a brief hearing in Allen Superior Court.

He did not provide specifics, but a motion filed Wednesday refers to “six still images taken from the surveillance video, which is representative of the surveillance video coverage, with the defendant.”

Gardner learned of the video Tuesday, his motion says.

Michelle Funk-Pike was found dead inside a room at the Regency Inn on Coliseum Boulevard West. The 47-year-old died from blunt force injuries to the head, neck and chest and strangulation, investigators said.

Witnesses told police they saw Fabela wandering the halls, telling other guests he had killed his girlfriend and her body was in his room, charging documents say. He appeared intoxicated, offered one person some of his Chinese food and “made a reference about it being his last supper,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

Officers said they found Funk-Pike, of Las Vegas, wrapped in blankets inside the motel room.

Fabela was found incompetent to stand trial in February 2019.

A judge later found him competent after Fabela was treated by doctors.

In the hearing Friday, Allen Superior Court Judge David Zent warned Fabela that postponing the trial means spending months more in a cell at the Allen County jail.

Fabela said he wanted his lawyer to spend more time preparing a solid defense.

“I'm also fighting for my life,” he said.

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