The attorney for murder suspect Branden Riddle-Terrel was granted a continuance in court last week so that he can investigate the possibility of entering a dual plea based on insanity.
Riddle-Terrel allegedly had been on a drug- and whiskey-fueled binge before he launched a savage attack on Ryan Roth, stabbing him at least 18 times at Roth’s Lake of the Pines home in February 2012.
He has pleaded not guilty to one count of murder with a special allegation of use of a deadly weapon in Roth’s death, as well as one count of criminal threats against a female victim, Melissa Lawrence.
Lawrence, who had been dating Riddle-Terrel, testified at a preliminary hearing into the evidence that Riddle-Terrel had been drinking, as well as smoking marijuana, snorting cocaine and inhaling nitrous oxide that night.
After the stabbing, Lawrence drove away with Riddle-Terrel in the passenger seat of her car. Lawrence testified that Riddle-Terrel then told her he killed Roth. According to Lawrence, she soon pulled over, and Riddle-Terrel started strangling her. He allegedly then let go and she fled out of the car and up a hill, at which point he reportedly drove away in her car.
Riddle-Terrel led law enforcement agencies on a car chase through three counties, driving through two sets of spike strips before being extricated from the car with the assistance of a K-9 officer.
In Nevada County Superior Court on Friday, defense attorney Gregory Bentley requested Riddle-Terrel’s formal arraignment be continued until April, in part because his family needs to obtain funds to pay for counsel.
Bentley wrote that a psychiatric examination has been scheduled for Feb. 7 to determine whether or not Riddle-Terrel will enter a dual plea of not guilty, and not guilty by reason of insanity. Bentley could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
With a dual plea, Riddle-Terrel would still go to trial on the criminal charges, and the issue of sanity would be addressed in a separate trial.
He is set to return to court April 15.
In other court news:
— What the prosecutor called one of the largest methamphetamine seizures in Nevada County ended with the defendant pleading no contest to one count of possessing a controlled substance with intent to sell.
Mark Dewayne Bowden, 32, of Rough and Ready, had been pulled over in February 2012 by a California Highway Patrol officer and allegedly failed to produce identification. A vehicle search yielded nearly two pounds of meth, a digital scale, packaging materials, and about $5,000 in cash.
Bowden was charged with possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession of drug paraphernalia and transportation of a controlled substance.
According to Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Jim Phillips, a member of the Narcotics Task Force testified that the street value of the meth found in Bowden’s vehicle was between $27,000 to $80,000, depending on the way it was packaged for sale.
“He said it was the largest seizure he’d ever been involved in,” Phillips said.
On Friday, Bowden took a plea agreement in exchange for a stipulated two-year prison sentence, Phillips said. Sentencing was set for April 8.
— A man arrested in Nevada City with 5 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle took a plea agreement in return for a possible sentence of 180 days in jail and three years probation.
Charles Waylan Mason, 30, was arrested Aug. 12, 2011, after Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies reportedly found $18,000 in cash and more than 5 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle.
Members of the Narcotics Task Force were conducting surveillance at Calanan Park in downtown Nevada City when they allegedly saw a drug transaction next to the park and made a traffic stop of the car. A search of the vehicle allegedly revealed the cash and pot, as well as methamphetamine, a methamphetamine pipe, a scale and several knives; a subsequent search of Mason’s residence allegedly uncovered 44 marijuana plants.
Mason was arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, transport of a controlled substance, transport for sale and possession of marijuana for sale. On Friday, he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of possessing a controlled substance, and a felony count of criminal conspiracy to maintain a place for the sale of controlled substances.
He is set for sentencing on April 15.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.