Community prays for justice as police charge 3 in connection to Arcadia man’s brutal death

Officers with the Arcadia Police Department have arrested three men in connection to the fatal beating of Arcadia man, Juan Sebastian.

Gary Stanka, 31, Kyle Johnston, 27, and Brett Johnston, 25, have been charged with second-degree murder.

Stanka and Kyle Johnston had first appearances on Monday. Brett Johnston won’t be getting out on bond prior to their hearing and is to have no contact with his co-defendants. Hearings for all three will take place Friday at 10:30 a.m.

On Dec. 8, officers responded to the area of La Placita where they located Sebastian unconscious. On Dec. 23, he passed away in hospice from his injuries.

Police say the case remains open and the investigation is ongoing.

Everyone who knew Sebastian told WINK News that he never hurt or bothered anyone. So when the people of Arcadia found out someone severely beat him on the bench he called home, they rushed to his side.

Following his death, the community held a vigil in his honor Saturday night.

Vigil held for Juan Sebastian (provided to WINK News)

In a quiet park hidden by trees now lies a sacred memorial to honor Sebastian, who was homeless and slept on a bench there every night. He was an integral part of his community.

“He was a very respectful, loving, caring person and I don’t understand why anyone would want to hurt him the way that they did,” said Tina Lopez.

Sebastian was beaten while he slept on that same bench. He died from those injuries last week with his beloved dog Cheeto by his side.

The three arrests have given the community some hope that justice will be served for Sebastian.

“I was happy because at least someone is going to be held accountable for his death and it’s not going to just be another cold case,” said Lopez.

Even though arrests have been made, community members say his empty bench will always be a reminder of what happened to their beloved friend.

“They just don’t know what they did because they took a person out of this community that everybody loved,” said Montreal Peterson.

Now, all that’s left are burning candles, flowers and memories to help a community remember a man who etched his place in their hearts.

“Hopefully he’s looking down and he’s happy with what’s going on,” Peterson said.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Briana Harvath
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