An ex-con charged with assaulting a 20-year-old Pepperdine University student as she slept in her Malibu apartment pleaded not guilty in court Friday.
Matthew Caleb Fairchild, 34, pleaded not guilty to one felony count each of assault with intent to commit a felony during the commission of a first- degree burglary and first-degree residential burglary with a person present.
Authorities said Fairchild is a transient. The criminal complaint alleges that he has prior convictions in Los Angeles County for assault likely to produce great bodily injury in 2018 and receiving stolen property in 2019.
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The crime occurred about 3:45 a.m. Feb. 8 in the 23900 block of Civic Center Way, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Fairchild allegedly climbed a staircase in the apartment to the woman's bedroom and attacked the woman as she slept in her bed, according to Deputy District Attorney David Berger.
"The suspect then apologized and rapidly exited the residence, possibly under the influence of alcohol/drugs," according to a statement from the sheriff's department.
Security images of the suspect were subsequently released.
Fairchild was arrested about 6:15 a.m. Wednesday in the 19100 block of Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. He has remained behind bars since then on $1 million bail, according to jail records.
He is due back in a Van Nuys courtroom next month.
If convicted as charged, he faces a potential life prison sentence, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Meanwhile, sheriff's department officials on Friday declined to comment on a report by a local news website, www.thelocalmalibu.com, that a sheriff's captain had been demoted and two deputies placed on leave due to complaints about the initial handling of the case. According to the website, the initial responding deputies engaged in "inappropriate questioning of the victim," failed to review footage from security cameras and "minimized the crime to `trespassing."'
The website reported that the victim called the sheriff's Malibu/Lost Hills station to file a complaint, resulting in deputies being sent back to the location to take a more thorough report and prompting the department to issue a community bulletin with a suspect description.
The sheriff's department declined to comment on the website's report, saying only that the topic was a "personnel matter."