Days after Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace was gunned down while checking on a suspicious vehicle, his accused killer made his first court appearance to enter a not guilty plea to all the charges against him.
David Machado, 37, of Keyes is charged with murder with a special circumstance of killing a peace officer. The charge also carries two enhancements — one for acting with premeditation and the other for using a firearm. Machado is also charged with robbery in the first degree with an enhancement of using a firearm, felony carjacking with an enhancement of using a firearm, and a felony charge of being a felon in possession of a gun. All the charges carry an additional enhancement in that Machado was out on bail for a previous charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Given the murder charge with the special circumstance, Machado could possibly be facing the death penalty. Deputy District Attorney John Mayne, who is prosecuting the case for the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, said the decision has not been made at this time on whether or not they will be seeking the death penalty.
The district attorney’s office requested Machado be held without bail for the murder and the other charges and his public defenders submitted to the request.
Machado entered the courtroom Tuesday afternoon wearing a red and white striped jail uniform and shackles around his ankles and hands. Once seated, Machado turned to look at his two family members in the front row of the courtroom galley. He was told to turn back around and face front, to which Machado replied: “You don’t want them to see what you done to me.”
There didn’t appear to be any marks or bruises on Machado’s face. He is currently being held at the Stanislaus County Jail, but the sheriff could decide to have him housed at another county’s jail facility if the need arises, said district attorney’s office spokesperson John Goold.
Machado told Judge Thomas Zeff that he had no money to hire an attorney, so the judge appointed two attorneys from the Stanislaus County Public Defender’s Office to his defense.
The defense attorneys and Machado left the courtroom to have a private discussion and the attorneys came back shortly after, but Machado was not following them. A bailiff said something to the judge, to which the judge replied “carry him in.”
Machado came in on his own seconds later.
Wallace, 53, was gunned down Sunday morning at the Fox Grove fishing access after going to check on a suspicious vehicle, said Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson.
“Unfortunately we do this far too often here in California and nationwide,” Christianson said. “You have to ask yourself where does it stop and where does it end. These are men and women who put their lives on the line every day to stand between good and evil to protect our community. Once again we’ve lost a member of our family.
“The killing of Deputy Dennis Wallace has had a tremendous negative effect on our organization,” Christianson said at a second press conference Sunday. “We are family, law enforcement is a family. Like families that lose loved ones, we’ve lost someone special to us.”
At 8:25 a.m. Sunday, Wallace arrived at the Fox Grove Fishing Access at 1000 Geer Road in Hughson in a marked patrol car and in his uniform. Wallace called into dispatch about a suspicious van at the scene and was quickly informed that the vehicle had been reported stolen and that the suspect in the theft was believed to be Machado, who also was believed to be armed, according to the sheriff’s department. Wallace made a request for a second unit to come to the scene.
“Within seconds he was murdered — executed,” Christianson said.
Dispatch tried to make contact with Wallace multiple times, but got no response. Sheriff’s Deputy Christian Torres out of Waterford arrived at the scene and found Wallace on the ground shot. Lifesaving efforts were initiated and Wallace was rushed to a nearby hospital, but medical personnel were unable to save him and he was pronounced dead.
Christianson said Wallace was shot twice in the head.
“The gun was in direct contact with his head when it was pulled twice,” Christianson said.
The suspect and the stolen van were both gone from Fox Grove. A message was broadcast to all area law enforcement agencies alerting them to the incident, information was provided identifying the suspect and the vehicle related to the initial investigation.
Law enforcement learned a person in Keyes had been carjacked at 8:40 a.m. Sunday and the individual positively identified Machado as the carjacker. It’s unknown if the individual suffered any injuries during the carjacking. The vehicle Machado carjacked was a 2009 white Kia Rio.
The manhunt for Machado spread through the county and information, including his picture, distinctive tattoos, and the stolen vehicle were shared with law enforcement around the state.
Around noon in the city of Lindsay a woman in a convenience store was approached by a man, later identified as Machado, who attempted to forcibly take her car keys from her. The woman fought back and was able to call 911, prompting Machado to flee the scene on foot, according to the sheriff’s department.
Lindsay Police officers located Machado around 12:33 p.m. Sunday. Machado had fled to a residential alleyway, where he was contacted by Lindsay Police officers and surrendered without incident.
Once in custody the police department recognized Machado from the all points bulletin. His identity was confirmed through a photograph and from his tattoos. Sheriff’s investigators and a custodial team flew to Tulare County on the sheriff’s department helicopter to question Machado and bring him back to Stanislaus County.
“He will stand trial and we will seek justice,” Christianson said.
At the time of his arrest Machado had a bench warrant out because he missed a court appearance on the charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The memorial service celebrating the life of Wallace is scheduled for 11 a.m. Nov. 22 at CrossPoint Community Church located at 1301 12th Street in Modesto.
The memorial service will be open to the public. Community members who wish to attend should plan for an early arrival as parking will be limited.
A memorial fund for Wallace has been established by the Stanislaus Sworn Deputies Association. Donations can be made in several ways: In person at any West America Bank branch to the Dennis Wallace Memorial Fund; by mail to: Stanislaus Sworn Deputies Association, PO Box 2314, Ceres, CA 95307; or online at https://www.stanislaussworn.com/donation.html
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Deputy Wallace’s family, friends, and the men and women of our sheriff’s department,” Christianson said. “The response by our allied agencies in and near Stanislaus County has been outstanding. The people in our community have shown their support and we’re grateful in ways we could never expect.”
Wallace was a 20-year-veteran of the sheriff’s department and leaves behind a wife and family. He lived in Hughson and helped with community soccer games and youth football for the area. He had previously been assigned to the Salida area and the courthouse before his assignment in Hughson.
“Dennis is well-known in the organization for things like the D.A.R.E. program, working in our early intervention and education programs,” Christianson said. “Dennis had a very special relationship with young people and a special place in our hearts.”
This is the second fatal shooting the sheriff’s department has suffered in recent years. In 2012, Deputy Robert Paris was shot to death while serving an eviction notice in Modesto.
“This tragedy it’s happened again,” Christianson said. “We did this in 2012. I never thought I’d be standing here before you doing this again. I want you all to pray for the Wallace family, to pray for public safety and I call for unity of support — a unity of support nationwide. No peace officer should be killed in the line of duty. Not one.”
Detectives are working on establishing a timeline of everywhere Machado may have been before and after the shooting at the Fox Grove Fishing Access near Hughson. Detectives also want to speak to anyone who has had prior contacts or any incidents with Machado.
Anyone who believes they may have seen Machado at any time Sunday, or had dealings with him in the past, is asked to contact Sheriff’s Detective Josh Sandoval at 209-525-7073.