Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Simlick DA seeks death penalty,
while defense attorney bows out

by Tom Nadeau
with Sam Pierce

Accused killer --- Joseph Hayden Simlick was in Sutter County Superior last week where all bets were called off in his double-murder trial -- at least until May 13.

When Judge Chris Chandler mounted the bench he was clearly not in a chipper mood.

Looking down at a sheaf of legal papers, Chandler announced in a stern tone that some new issues that had come up in the oft-delayed Simlick matter. Specifically:

-- Prosecutor Jana McClung announced the Sutter County DA now wants to revise the state’s current charges against the 21-year-old Loomis man to include the death penalty.

-- Defense attorney Linda Parisi wanted to be vacant her role as Simlick’s privately retained attorney.

-- And, in view of those developments, a public defender would have to be found to take over Simlick’s case. That proved to be county legal contractor attorney Mark Van den Heuvel.

Arrested some seven months ago, Simlick has yet to have a preliminary hearing into the multiple felony charges against him

The skinny, pale and short-haired Simlick was arrested in July, 2010 on suspicion of two counts of murder in the deaths of husband and wife Jack and Susan “Suzie” Martin, both 46.

Firefighters responding to a garage fire at the Martin‘s Mulberry Street home reportedly found the two bodies. Details of the victims‘ disposition and the fire were withheld at the time by the Sutter County sheriff’s investigators.

Simlick was arrested soon after and was then arraigned on two counts of murder, burglary and false imprisonment charges stemming from a July 25 incident involving Kendall Martin, one of the Martin’s daughters.

Simlick had reportedly been breaking up with the girl.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges

It was then 8:30 and a busy 9 a.m. regular court calender was closing in fast. There really wasn’t much time to properly address the pros and cons of the motions and Van den Heuvel had to be chased down.

Chandler wondered: could the matter be moved to 1:30 p.m.?

Apparently not. Parisi had a previously-scheduled matter set for 1:30 p.m. in Sacramento County Superior Court 45 miles away.

Chandler decided told the two attorneys he would deliver his rulings on the issues raised at 8:55 a.m. Sharp. Be there.

In the hallway McClung said the introduction of the new special circumstances allegation had nothing to do with Parisi’s announcement she was bailing out.

The decision to amend the charges was made the previous week, McClung said.

Later, Parisi said two factors caused her to ask to be released from her role as Simlick’s defender: the family was running low on money and the prosecution’s decision to invoke the death penalty would only things more expensive.

When they all returned at 8:55 a.m. Van den Heuvel also appeared.

Chandler got write down to brass taxes. He accepted Parisi’s withdrawal and noted the prosecution’s motion to call for the death penalty.

Van Den Heuvel’s accepted an appointment as public defender for Simlick and worked out a first court appearance in the matter, which Chandler set for 8:30 a.m. May 13.

That done, some spectators adjourned for breakfast at a nearby coffee shop. Speculation abounded.

One of the more interesting guesses was that the prosecution cranked it up to a death penalty case to complicate matters and make things more expensive, knowing the defendant’s family would be less likely to afford the more expensive process.

That would precipitate Parisi’s departure. Parisi is a sharp, well-respected defense attorney, well regarded around Sacramento courthouses.

Perhaps a local public defender would be easier to “work with.” Could that consideration have figured in the DA’s decision to seek the death penalty?

One can never know for sure.


Blogger Jason Littlepage said...

I don’t know all the facts of this case…..but with the allegations and death qualification one would have to question is the Public Defender the one for the job. My guess is this will be a big job, for anyone…more Sutter County Justice????

March 22, 2011 at 8:18 PM  

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