Suspected cop assassin Andrew McCrae was back in California last week for the first time since he allegedly shot and killed a Red Bluff police officer last November.
McCrae, 23, was arraigned in Tehama County Superior Court in two separate hearings in Red Bluff and Corning. At the first arraignment, Judge John J. Garaventa read the charges against McCrae, who is accused of murder with the special circumstance that he killed an on-duty police officer. Prosecutors have so far not ruled out pursuing the death penalty but are declining to comment on the case for fear of tainting the jury pool.
McCrae indicated he understood the charges against him and asked that he be allowed to represent himself with a public defender as co-counsel. After continuing the hearing to the following week, Garaventa recused himself from the case on the grounds that he and his family knew the slain officer.
At the Corning hearing Feb. 4, Judge Richard Schueler again continued the proceedings until later this month after asking McCrae if he would consider allowing a public defender to represent him, at least through preliminary hearings. Schueler advised McCrae that he would be “foolish” to attempt to defend himself without legal advice in such a complex case. After consulting briefly with appointed defender James Reichle, McCrae agreed, but he made it clear he still wished to defend himself at his trial.
Dressed in a green jail shirt and orange pants and watched over closely by Red Bluff police and county sheriff’s deputies, McCrae was polite and calm in answering the judge, keeping his eyes forward and hands clasped.
McCrae, a former Army private and student at Evergreen College in Olympia, Wash., has been the object of intense speculation and public scorn since he apparently confessed over the Internet and to at least one reporter that he’d killed a police officer. Officer Mobilio was shot three times the night of Nov. 19—twice in the side and once in the head—while he gassed up his cruiser at a Red Bluff fueling station. Afterward, McCrae allegedly called his parents to tell them what he’d done, then posted confessions on the Internet claiming that the act was a protest of “police state tactics [and] corporate irresponsibility.” He was arrested by the FBI and local police one week after the killing following a short standoff at a Concord, Mass., hotel. Mobilio was the first Red Bluff police officer to be killed on duty since the town was incorporated in 1876.
McCrae was transported Jan. 29 from Concord to the Redding Airport by FBI and California Department of Justice agents. Tehama County sheriff’s deputies transported him to the county jail in Red Bluff, where he was put on a routine watch program. He is being monitored closely by jail staff but is free to move in and out of a day room, where he can watch television, place collect calls and talk to other inmates, said Tehama county Undersheriff Dennis Garton.
Garton said his department was given only about three hours to prepare for McCrae’s arrival by agents who phoned once McCrae’s flight was already airborne, but that his transport went "very smooth." Garton said security for McCrae’s court dates had been increased due to the case’s high profile but that he was unaware of any threats against the prisoner.