The Disappearance and Murder of 17-Year-Old Chelsea King
Arraignment and Aftermath
Charged with Chelsea's murder, along with the allegation that the murder was committed during the commission of rape or attempted rapea special circumstance that could bring him the death penalty if convicted, Gardner had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf by his attorneys, Michael Popkins. He was also charged with assault with the intent to commit rape for the December 27, 2009 attack on the out of state woman who had been visiting relatives in San Diego. Judge Brannigan ordered that Gardner be held without bail, and set his preliminary hearing for March 18, 2010which did not occur. The preliminary hearing was instead moved to August 4, 2010.
A gag order was also issued for the case, and as a result the cause of Chelsea's death, if it has yet been determined, has not been made public.
"The discovery was made in the early morning hours Saturday in a very rugged and remote area of Pala," Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher said at a press conference the next day. "Escondido police and sheriff's homicide detectives were following a lead in the case when they made the discovery."
Positive identification of Amber's remains was made through dental records.
Whether Amber's death is positively linked to Gardner remains to be seen.