January 14, 2013 | Back to: Letters

Placer County murder cases move forward

Two murder cases in Placer County with local connections continue to move forward in the court system.

The trial for Lee Konnerth remains set to start Feb. 25, but Placer County Deputy District Attorney Dave Tellman said Friday he would not be surprised if that date got pushed back due to the complexity of the case.

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; a conference has been scheduled for Jan. 25.

Meanwhile, Nevada County homicide suspect Patricia Howell Thomas was in court Jan. 7, but setting a date for a preliminary hearing into the evidence against her was postponed.

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.

Peck told investigators she walked into the bathroom and saw her mother holding Cindy’s legs in the air in the tub. In a conversation that was being secretly recorded by investigators, Thomas allegedly told Peck that she “bumped Cindy’s head on the faucet and that Cindy became unconscious, and she left her there to drown.”

Thomas is on home confinement; she is set to return to Placer County Superior Court Feb. 25.

In other court news:

— The man accused of killing a Chicago Park man in a hit-and-run accident in Carmichael pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder, vehicular manslaughter, and driving under the influence, among other charges.

Paul William Walden, 31, was arrested after he drove into Harison Long-Randall, 21, as he walked with his girlfriend, Gemily West, and her four dogs the night of July 16, 2012. West’s leg was broken, and her Australian cattle dogs were killed on impact.

Long-Randall was hailed as a hero after he pushed his girlfriend out of the way of the hit-and-run driver; he was critically injured and underwent several surgeries before succumbing to his injuries.

Walden allegedly was under the influence of drugs at the time of his arrest; he also allegedly has three previous arrests for driving under the influence over the past decade and has been involved in other cases involving burglary, drugs and battery, according to published reports.

Long-Randall, originally from Sacramento, moved to Chicago Park with his parents about three years ago. He was a student at American River College and met West through his twin sister, Emma. They had been dating for about seven months.

A preliminary hearing into the evidence against Walden has been set for March 15.

— The attempted murder trial of Daniel Lucas Colondres is set to get under way with jury selection Tuesday.

Colondres allegedly had been stalking a woman for a period of time before he reportedly broke into her Lake Wildwood Drive home Aug. 20, 2011. Colondres allegedly slashed the woman and a male friend with a knife before a neighbor drove him off by hitting him with a golf club.

Colondres has pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted murder with a special allegation of great bodily injury, first-degree residential burglary with a person present, criminal threats, two counts of stalking, dissuading a witness, interference with a communication device, vandalism and violating a restraining order.

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


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The Union Updated Feb 20, 2013 01:13PM Published Jan 22, 2013 02:40AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.