STUDIO CITY—The Los Angeles Police Department announced that Efrem Zimbalist Demery, 28, of Los Angeles was charged in court for setting ablaze at the Top Notch Recording Studio in Studio City, where two people were killed and two others were severely injured, a man in his 20s and a 15 year-old girl. Demery was charged with five felony counts in case LA088204: two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of arson of a structure.
The felony complaint includes a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders. The charging document also contains special allegations that Demery used an accelerant and committed great bodily injury during the commission of the crime. He was seen on surveillance video filling up a container with gasoline from a nearby gas station.
He was arraigned in court on Monday, April 16 in Department 100 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Van Nuys Branch. Prosecutors asked for the defendant to be held on no bail. The case was assigned to Deputy District Attorney Rachel Bowers of the Arson and Explosives Section.
On Saturday, April 14, a fire broke out at a recording studio in the 3700 block of Cahuenga Boulevard. The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the blaze at 6:54 a.m.
Firefighters found heavy smoke emanating from the 3,480 square-foot music recording studio. Reports of people trapped within the structure set in motion a simultaneous interior fire attack and search and rescue operation. After officials extinguished the fire, they found the bodies of Devaughn Carter and Michael Pollard. A male and female were also seriously injured in the blaze. The 83 firefighters on scene of this Greater Alarm fire, under the leadership of Assistant Chief Patrick Butler, prevented the spread of flames and saved the remaining portion of the large building.
According to police, Demery knew both Carter and Pollard. A motive for the fire has not yet been establish. Captain Billy Hayes of the LAPD indicated during a press conference that “arson is a brutal crime and a terrible way to die.”
According to reports, Demery was previously arrested for burglary and counterfeit goods. Officials from the Los Angeles Police Department located Demery in South Los Angeles later in the day and arrested him in connection with the fatal fire, the prosecutor added. If convicted as charged, Demery could face life in state prison without the possibility of parole and the death penalty. The decision whether to seek capital punishment will be determined at a later date. The case is being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division.