Suspect held on Grass Valley kidnap, assault charges | TheUnion.com

Suspect held on Grass Valley kidnap, assault charges

A third defendant in a 2017 kidnapping case was in Nevada County Superior Court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing into the evidence against him.

After the hearing, Judge Linda Sloven held Robert James Burnett on charges of kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon, along with a special allegation of committing a crime while armed with a gun.

Burnett, 24, is facing those charges after allegedly kidnapping and assaulting Christopher Ross in Grass Valley over a marijuana debt. Codefendants David Munoz, 25, and Layla Rain Callahan, 22, were initially arrested after Ross escaped the house where he was being held, reached police and then was treated for injuries at a hospital.

Burnett, meanwhile, had fled the county and was picked up on a warrant in January 2019, Deputy District Attorney Cambria Lisonbee said. He is currently out of custody on $250,000 bond.

During the evidentiary hearing, Ross testified he was held against his will for several days, and tried to cooperate with Munoz and Callahan because they threatened to harm his family, including his young daughter.

Ross said they bound him with duct tape and tried to get him to arrange for someone to bring them marijuana.

On the second day, Ross said, Burnett arrived and hit him in the face with a shotgun “20 times, at least.” Others present kicked him and hit him with a pistol, he said. His assailants were drinking beer, smoking marijuana and doing cocaine, Ross said.

“They would take a break and assault me again,” he said, estimating the ordeal lasted two to three hours.

At some point, he was transported to two different residences, Ross said, adding that Callahan and Burnett held him with the shotgun.

The third day, Ross said, his assailants “bagged out.” A different man who was supposed to be watching him instead contacted police and took him to his mother’s house.

Grass Valley Police Officer Clint Lovelady testified that Munoz corroborated Ross’ account, that Burnett hit him “on the side of the head” with the shotgun.

Burnett is set for formal arraignment on Feb. 21.

The other two defendants previously took plea agreements in return for five years’ probation. Munoz pleaded no contest to second-degree robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment, while Callahan pleaded to the kidnap charge.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lizk@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.


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