Analyst links fingerprint to Penn Valley marijuana grow murder suspect
May 31, 2017
A fingerprint found at the scene of a Penn Valley homicide was linked Wednesday to one of three men accused of the 2014 fatal shooting at a marijuana grow, an analyst testified.
A right thumbprint linked by authorities to Nathan Philbrook, 33, was found on a greenhouse door hours after authorities discovered the body of Isaac Zafft on Goodenough Court, testified Kent Quong, a latent print analyst with the state Bureau of Forensic Services.
"It was a clean impression," Quong said. "It was clear."
Philbrook, along with Finley Fultz, 27, and Daniel Devencenzi, 32, each face a murder charge in connection with the July 7, 2014, shooting death of Zafft. Brought to Nevada County last year, the men remained in jail Wednesday without bond.
Quong's testimony came on the second day of the men's preliminary hearing. That hearing, which began in February, was delayed for months and resumed Wednesday after Superior Court Judge Robert Tice-Raskin heard arguments about the admissibility of a statement Fultz gave detectives days after his arrest.
The Wednesday preliminary hearing focused on testimony about the initial investigation into Zafft's death. At that hearing Donald Henrickson, a forensic pathologist who performed an autopsy on the victim, testified that Zafft had four gunshot wounds, one of which was to his chest and fractured several ribs.
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The arguments over Fultz' statement occurred Tuesday and Wednesday morning, and stem from his attempt to keep his interview with detectives from a jury.
Defense attorney Greg Klein, who represents Fultz, said authorities deliberately delayed bringing his client to Nevada County after his arrest — a delay that provided time for an undercover officer to speak with Fultz in jail and for a later interview with detectives. Additionally, in that interview Fultz invokes his right to remain silent, though detectives continued to question him.
"He's being pretty clear that he doesn't want to talk and the interrogation continues," Klein said.
Assistant District Attorney Joe Alexander argued that a video of the interview shows Fultz wants to talk.
"He is attempting, as best he can, to extract a deal, a plea bargain," Alexander said.
Tice-Raskin has made no decision on Fultz' statement. Prosecutors said that decision will affect the witnesses they call today when the hearing resumes at 9 a.m.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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