Chris McAmis, accused of murdering Fullerton College student Lynsie Ekelund in 2001, this morning waived his right to a speedy arraignment at the Whittier Superior Courthouse. His arraignment was rescheduled for Jan. 20. Police say McAmis, now 31, strangled 20-year-old Placentia resident Ekelund and buried her corpse in a Santa Clarita canyon.
Clad in a blue jail-issued jumpsuit, McAmis was led into the courtroom's glass holding cell at about 10 a.m. He was represented by Attorney Sean McDonald of the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office.
With shoulders hunched and hands cuffed in front of him, he surveyed those present in the courtroom, who included his wife Kim as well as Nancy Ekelund, the victim's mother. The only word he uttered was a quiet "yes" when asked by Commissioner Loren DiFrank if he understood he was waiving his right to a speedy arraignment.
Outside the courtroom, Nancy Ekelund approached Kim McAmis; the two spoke quietly for a couple minutes. Ekelund was overheard saying she was sorry before she left the courthouse.
Ekelund family friend Kim Keith of Anaheim Hills accompanied Nancy to the hearing to show her support. When asked about her response to seeing McAmis in court, she said, "Just cold chills. I wanted to hold Nancy and protect her."
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Keith was Lynsie's 7th-grade teacher at Friends Christian School in Yorba Linda and described the young girl, who had been partially paralyzed in a car accident, as "pure sunshine." She added that though Ekelund was often the focus of teasing by classmates due to her disability, she maintained a kind heart. "That girl was a protector of other people who got made fun of. That's what drew me to her," Keith said.
Kim McAmis, along with her small group of supporters, declined to comment on the day's hearing. But Keith expressed no surprise at Nancy approaching members of the McAmis family. "That's so Nancy. And that was so beautiful. To know Nancy is to know Lynsie," she said.
A public memorial service will be held for Lynsie Ekelund at 2 p.m. on Dec. 18 at Placentia Presbyterian Church, 849 N. Bradford Ave.