Father of slain teen Elyse Pahler takes plea deal in road-rage case

Elyse Pahler
Elyse Pahler

The father of a teenage murder victim will take anger management classes as part of a plea deal in a road-rage case stemming from an incident he says was triggered by his post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I’m going to do anger management,” David Pahler told The Tribune on Monday. “That would really be good for me.”

The death of Pahler’s 15-year-old daughter, Elyse, made national news in 1995. The girl was lured to a eucalyptus grove in Nipomo and murdered by three teens in a crime prosecutors called a satanic killing.

Pahler and his wife later unsuccessfully sued the heavy metal band Slayer, saying their lyrics incited the teens to commit the crime.

According to police reports, Pahler, 67, of Arroyo Grande, was driving on East Grand Avenue in December when a man driving a Honda Civic with his wife as a passenger pulled in front of him, forcing Pahler to slam on the brakes. Pahler then followed the vehicle to a Rite Aid parking lot.

According to the report, Pahler yelled at the driver, banged on a window and struck the victim’s door with a knee, then yanked the driver out of the car by his shirt.

Pahler was initially charged with misdemeanor battery and vandalism. But he pleaded no contest Monday to misdemeanor vandalism.

After the plea, Pahler told The Tribune the other driver’s actions were dangerous and could have resulted in a fatality had he not braked quickly.

“The adrenaline went through the roof,” Pahler said. “And I followed him to the parking lot.”

His daughter’s murder and “a bad experience with a priest” when he was 5, Pahler said, led him to have PTSD, which he admits causes him to have anger issues.

“How many people have had their daughter murdered in the name of the devil?” he said.

Pahler admitted to confronting the driver but denied hitting his car or pulling the driver out of his vehicle, noting the police reports said the driver had locked his car door.

“I can get angry, but I would never harm anybody,” he said.

As a result of his plea, Pahler will be on unsupervised probation for two years, plus he was ordered to take anger management courses and pay for damage to the car.

Pahler said he’ll take anger management classes — “I haven’t really talked to anybody about my anger,” he said — but he said he should not have to pay for car repairs.

“If I’d hit his window once, I would have broken it,” Pahler said. “I didn’t damage his car, so why do they want me to fix his car?”

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