Accused serial evader held for arraignment in Nevada County Superior Court on 4 separate cases
Wyatt Yoder managed to evade law enforcement officers four times between June 2018 and August 2019 before finally getting arrested on Aug. 21, 2019, during a multi-agency warrant search at a South County residence, authorities said.
That’s according to evidence presented Thursday during a day-long preliminary hearing for four separate felony cases in Nevada County Superior Court. Yoder remained jailed Thursday under $240,000 in bond, officials said.
Nevada County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul McCallum — a Grass Valley police officer at the time — testified that on July 11, 2018, he made a traffic stop on a vehicle. The driver got out of the vehicle and the passenger moved over to the driver’s side and fled, driving recklessly onto Highway 49 and then Allison Ranch Road.
McCallum testified that driver, identified as Yoder, fled but was later located hiding in the brush.
Judge Scott Thomsen found enough evidence to hold Yoder on charges of reckless evasion, resisting arrest and giving false information to a peace officer, No evidence was presented on charges of driving on a suspended license and hit-and-run driving, and those charges were dropped.
Yoder, 34, had been on the lam after failing to appear in court in May 2019 for the July 2018 case, court records state.
Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Lampe testified that on June 4, 2019, he was on patrol when he spotted a vehicle associated with Yoder pass him on La Barr Meadows Road. Lampe said he could not identify the driver and began following the vehicle, losing sight of it after it accelerated onto Highway 49 and then off at Empire Street.
Grass Valley Police Officer Tyler Blake testified that Yoder’s vehicle “flew by him” near Empire Mine State Park and that he began a pursuit onto Highway 174.
Blake said he was able to identify Yoder, telling the judge he had gone to school with the defendant as far back as grade school.
Yoder was driving approximately 70 mph on the highway, Blake estimated, but slowed to about 35 as he approached Union Hill School because there was a woman and child in the crosswalk.
“They started running,” Blake said of the pedestrians.
Yoder had pulled into in the opposing lane, couldn’t stop and began fishtailing, crossing the double yellow lines again, the officer said. By then, Blake said, the woman and child “were in a full sprint” and cleared the road before Yoder drove past.
“I thought he was going to kill two pedestrians right in front of me,” Blake said, explaining his decision to terminate the pursuit as too dangerous.
Defense attorney Courtney Abril told the judge the identification was “thin,” but Thomsen held Yoder on one count of reckless evasion.
Deputy Taylor King testified regarding Yoder’s next sighting near Lodestar Drive and Dog Bar Road on June 30, 2019.
King recognized Yoder, who he knew had an arrest warrant, and tried to stop the vehicle. The driver then led King on a chase onto Peyton Place and through several private properties before the deputy lost him, King testified.
The abandoned vehicle was later located with the help of an air unit, but Yoder was not found despite a search, King said. The vehicle’s passenger was found in the area and told King that Yoder had told her to get out because he didn’t want to get her in trouble.
King testified that a fanny pack was located near the vehicle, as was a Tupperware container with 13 baggies of suspected methamphetamine weighing more than an ounce in total.
In that case, Thomsen held Yoder on charges of reckless evasion, possession of methamphetamine for sale and possession of a controlled substance. Charges of possession of prescription medication and burglary tools were dropped.
Lampe testified that he again pursued Yoder on Aug. 14, 2019, after a chase that started over a failure to yield by a suspected drunken driver. Lampe said he lost sight of the vehicle near Wheeler Cross Road, and never positively identified Yoder.
Blake testified that he had responded to a hit-and-run by a Toyota Avalon believed to have been driven by Yoder on Pine Street in Grass Valley. Neither victim was able to positively identify Yoder in a photo lineup but had provided a license plate number, Blake said. That vehicle later was located behind a Kate Hayes Street apartment complex, and was linked to Yoder via a surveillance video from a convenience store on Highway 174.
Yoder was arrested days later.
In that case, Thomsen held Yoder on reckless evasion and hit-and-run charges.
Yoder will return to court for formal arraignment on all the charges on Dec. 7.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at email@example.com.
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