A Saugus man accused of murdering his girlfriend in 2011 will face trial next month, after several years of delays, an official said Tuesday.
"Eric Earle appeared in court on Aug. 25, but his trial is expected to begin on Sept. 2," said Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. "He is being charged with one count of murder, and his bail is currently set for $1 million."
Earle, 43, who lived with his girlfriend Karla Brada, who was 41 at the time of her death, was arrested in 2011 on suspicion of causing Brada's death, but was released due to insufficient evidence.
Earle was arrested again in January 2012, and Judge Lloyd Nash confirmed there was enough evidence to put Earle on trial for Brada's death.
Deputies were called to the Saugus condominium they shared on the morning of Sept. 1, 2011, after Earle woke up and found Brada unresponsive.
She was pronounced dead at the scene by Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel, and homicide investigators took over the case.
Earle, who also was arrested for domestic violence and vandalizing a patrol car back in 2011, was re-arrested and charged based on the coroner's determination that Brada's death was a homicide.
The couple lived together on the 20700 block of Plum Canyon Road.
The decision puts a trial in motion that prosecutors have been pursuing, on and off, for nearly two years.
"Earle was released because of insufficient evidence," explained Lt. Eddie Hernandez of the Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau, back in September 2011. "But if the coroner determines it was homicide, we know that he is still in the area. Investigators have tracked down family members, and we know he's still in the Los Angeles area. We would take the information and get a warrant."
Earle was arrested on Sept. 1, 2011, the day he called deputies to tell them that his roommate was not breathing. He was intoxicated and belligerent to deputies during his arrest, but complied with questioning and cooperated once behind bars, according to officials.
"We had to release him because we had no cause of death," Hernandez said. "He didn't admit to any wrongdoing and at the time, we had no probable cause to hold him."
Hernandez said that since his release, the investigation continued, despite delays from the Coroner's Office on determining a cause of death. Interviews were conducted with witnesses and people came forward with information about Earle and Barda's relationship and background.
"What took the longest was the official autopsy report," Hernandez said. "It was deferred for many, many months as they looked into the victim's medical history and allegations of drug use because she had been in a rehab program."
A booking sheet for Earle showed that he was arrested Aug. 5, 2011, and spent a couple of days in jail before posting bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on that case Sept. 6 of that same year.
Asked about the arrest record of the man taken from the scene, Hernandez said they were taking that into consideration.
Perry Smith contributed to this report.