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February 26, 2013
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Murder trial pushed to May


Key dates in two murder cases in Placer County with local connections have been pushed back.

The trial for Lee Konnerth, originally set to start Feb. 25, has been pushed back to May 14, said Placer County Deputy District Attorney Dave Tellman.

Konnerth has pleaded not guilty in the May 15, 2011, shooting death of his fiancee, Sarah Ann Burr, who was pregnant with his child. Burr graduated from Nevada Union High School in 1999 and had been employed at Golden Empire Convalescent Hospital in Grass Valley since 2000.

Placer County Sheriff’s deputies had responded to Konnerth’s house in Weimar after an off-duty police officer in the area heard a gunshot. The officer discovered Burr, 29, lying on the porch; she later was pronounced dead at the scene. Burr’s two young daughters and Konnerth’s father were in the residence at the time but did not witness the shooting.

Konnerth remains in jail on a no-bail warrant.

Nevada County homicide suspect Patricia Howell Thomas was in court Monday, but setting a date for a preliminary hearing into the evidence against her was postponed for the second time.

Thomas, 66, was arrested in January 2012 and charged with murder in the May 25, 1970, death of her 4-year-old daughter, Cindy.

The girl’s death was initially reported as a bathtub drowning to Auburn Police; information obtained from Thomas’ elder daughter, Wendy Howell Peck, initiated the reopening of the investigation.

Thomas is on home confinement; she is set to return to Placer County Superior Court March 18.

Pristavec sentencing delayed

The sentencing of an Olivehurst woman who allegedly set up a Craigslist date with a local man in order to rob him has been delayed after she unsuccessfully filed a motion for a new attorney.

Debbie Delois Pristavec had taken a plea agreement in return for a potential sentence of one year in jail.

Pristavec, Ryan Christopher Weeks and a 17-year-old boy were arrested in July 2012 after they allegedly lured the 64-year-old man out on a “date,” then robbed him at knifepoint.

The man told Grass Valley Police officers that he was on a date with the woman, who stole his wallet at knifepoint. He told officers he fought with the suspects, striking one on the head with a bottle, before they fled in a vehicle.

He was able to provide a description of the vehicle, and it was soon stopped by a Nevada County Sheriff’s deputy with the help of the California Highway Patrol. Officers allegedly located the victim’s missing cash — about $250 — but did not find the wallet or the knife.

The suspects allegedly had originally planned to conduct a home invasion against the victim while he slept but decided to rob the victim by force instead.

Weeks pleaded no contest to second-degree robbery in return for a possible two- to three-year prison sentence; the charge carries a maximum penalty of five years.

Pristavec had pleaded no contest to robbery in return for a plea agreement of one year in jail and five years probation; a criminal conspiracy charge was to be dismissed.

She was set for sentencing Monday, but instead filed a motion for a new court-appointed attorney. That motion was denied and she was to return to court March 11 for a pre-sentence conference.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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The Union Updated Mar 18, 2013 04:54PM Published Feb 26, 2013 02:19PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.