MARTINEZ, Calif. (AP) – A 16-year-old neighbor accused of killing the wife of a prominent defense attorney was charged as an adult Friday with murder and ordered held in lieu $1 million bail.

Scott Dyleski did not enter a plea or speak during his first court appearance in the Oct. 15 beating death of Pamela Vitale.

Vitale, 52, and her husband, defense lawyer and TV legal pundit Daniel Horowitz, were building their dream home in the wealthy suburb of Lafayette, about 20 miles east of San Francisco. Dyleski lived down the hill from their estate with his mother.

The San Francisco Chronicle, quoting unidentified law enforcement sources, reported in its Friday editions that the teen was running a credit-card scam and went to Horowitz and Vitale’s estate trying to track down some marijuana-growing equipment he had ordered. He got into a fight there with Vitale, who was hit dozens of times in the head with a piece of molding, the newspaper reported.

“This is a brutal homicide,” Deputy District Attorney Harold Jewett said Friday. “We believe it’s a situation where he is not entitled to protections accorded him under juvenile law.”

Jewett declined to comment on the Chronicle’s report but said it was not helpful to the investigation.

According to the Chronicle, when Dyleski was arrested Wednesday he had scratches consistent with a violent struggle. Horowitz has said his wife appeared to have fought her attacker.

Dyleski’s arraignment was set for Thursday. If convicted of murder as an adult, he could face up to life in prison; he is too young to face the death penalty.

Former classmates recalled Dyleski, who turns 17 later this month, as a nonconformist who tested out of Acalanes High School early. One described him as gothic. Another, Keith Kingon, said that Dyleski told people he was reading the book of Satan and that he once draw a pentagram on the ground with chalk in junior high and danced around it.

Yearbook photos of Dyleski show a transformation from fresh-faced middle schooler to brooding teenager with black-rimmed eyes. But while some former classmates described him as a morose oddball, others who know him insisted he was basically a good kid.

His stepfather, Glenn Hirschberger, described him as a “thoughtful, intelligent young man” incapable of the brutal attack on Vitale.

“Not Scott – absolutely not,” Hirschberger, who was married to the boy’s mother for about four years in the 1990s, told the Chronicle.

“There’s absolutely no way he’d be involved in anything like this. He’s not a fighter. He’s not a violent kid.”

Horowitz has appeared on cable news networks as a legal commentator, including during the Scott Peterson murder trial.

Vitale, 52, worked part-time for her husband’s law firm. She was buried Thursday in a private ceremony.

AP-ES-10-21-05 2149EDT


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