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Pot grower whose caretaker was killed takes plea, sentenced

The owner of a South County pot grow whose caretaker was shot and killed in 2014 was sentenced Monday after pleading no contest to maintaining a place with the intent to sell, give away or allow other people to use a controlled substance.

The homeowner, David Braut, was at the residence off Chances R Road, and had called 911 at about 1 a.m. July 7, 2014, to report gunfire and yelling. A Nevada County Sheriff’s deputy responded, but did not find anything.

Braut called back to request an area check, and the body of 27-year-old Isaac Zafft was found lying on the ground in a greenhouse on the property. Zafft was pronounced dead at the scene; an autopsy revealed he had been shot several times.



In July of this year, Nevada County Sheriff’s detectives from the Major Crimes Unit arrested Daniel Louis Devencenzi, 31; Finley Byrdtte Fultz, 27; and Nathan Robert Philbrook, 32, on charges of murder in the first degree in the course of a robbery.

Fultz, who is believed to have been the shooter, also has been charged with personal use of a firearm, personal discharge of a firearm, and personal discharge of a firearm causing death.




During a preliminary hearing into the evidence against Braut held earlier this year in Nevada County Superior Court, Sheriff’s Sgt. Sean Scales testified that Braut told him that he had hired Zafft to watch over his marijuana grow because he had been the victim of several previous rip-offs.

Deputy Mark Hollitz, a member of the Narcotics Task Force at the time, testified there were at least three outdoor grows on the property, as well as a greenhouse.

Hollitz testified that he found 65 pounds of processed marijuana in the residence, in plastic bags in totes; on cross-examination, he said he located 17.5 pounds of processed cola and 50 pounds of cola on the stem.

In court Monday, Braut’s attorney, Stephen Munkelt, grew emotional as he described the murder as a “terrifying event” that brought many changes to Braut and his family.

Deputy District Attorney Jim Phillips acknowledged Braut’s cooperation with law enforcement in investigating Zafft’s shooting death.

Judge Candace Heidelberger noted that this has been a “life-changer” for Braut, and sentenced him to 90 days in county jail, suspended, with three years supervised probation.

Defendant in honey oil lab case sentenced

A man arrested for reportedly running a sophisticated honey oil lab that used carbon dioxide extraction was sentenced Monday on a plea agreement in return for probation, registration as a narcotics offender and a suspended sentence.

Kyle Perry was arrested in October 2014 after members of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Task Force and the Major Crimes Unit executed a search warrant in the 20000 block of Big Spring Drive, reportedly discovering a honey oil lab, as well as several thousand dollars in cash, an outdoor marijuana garden consisting of 36 plants, and 30 to 40 pounds of processed marijuana. Four marijuana recommendations were located.

Perry reportedly was taking honey oil and using it to soak cartridges from e-cigarettes, then repackaging the cigarettes for sale.

At a recent hearing, Perry testified that he was working for Jetty Extracts, and had rented a warehouse off Loma Rica Drive for that purpose, using a carbon dioxide machine with pressurized tanks to extract honey oil.

Perry pleaded no contest to maintaining a place for the sales or use of a controlled substance and to being an accessory after the fact.

Heidelberger sentenced Perry on Monday to 120 days in jail, which she suspended, and three years supervised probation. Perry can apply to reduce his felony to a misdemeanor after 24 months.

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


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