Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sparks attorney wants Yuba DA's answer

by Tom Nadeau

Justin Scott, attorney for Dustin W. Sparks, told Yuba County Judge Kathleen O’Connor Monday that he has been unable to wrest a straight answer out of the prosecution whether it will consider bargaining a plea in a double homicide case reaching back to 2005.

The prosecution’s long delays and dodges were both mysterious and onerous inasmuch as Sparks was not even the alleged shooter in the deaths of Scott Davis and Christopher Hance.

Michael Huggins has already been convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years in state prison for the deaths which occurred on a medicinal marijuana farm in Linda.

The Yuba DA later charged Sparks with the more serious crime of murder in the first degree in those killings, despite the fact he had fled the scene before the men were shot.

The legality of the first degree murder charges was appealed to higher state courts, with the state Supreme Court eventually sending the case back down to Yuba County Superior Court.

The case is now slated for further adjudication, with pre-trial hearings to start Sept. 14.

Scott told O’Connor Monday that Sparks – who has already spent four years in custody awaiting some definitive action on his case – has made it clear he would consider entering a negotiated plea of guilty, if it led to a sentence of no more than 11 years.

But, Scott said, the defense has yet to receive a reply to the offer, yea or nay, from District Attorney Patrick McGrath.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Byrne said he would consult with McGrath. O’Connor set further hearings on the matter for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 30.


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