Torture allegation still possible against codefendant in Stan Norman murder case
A Nevada County judge heard arguments Friday regarding a motion to dismiss a torture allegation added to a murder charge faced by Michael McCauley in the April 2018 death of 70-year-old Stan Norman.
Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger chose to take the arguments under submission and issue a ruling at a later date.
But another motion likely is in the works to separate the cases against McCauley, 43, and co-defendant Sean Bryant, 53, so they could be tried separately. That hearing likely would be scheduled well in advance of the February trial date.
McCauley and Bryant originally had both been accused of murder and torture, after authorities say Bryant shot Norman with glass marbles and a crossbow, while McCauley helped and assisted in burying the remains.
But after a preliminary hearing this spring into the evidence, Judge Linda Sloven did not hold McCauley on the torture allegation. Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh subsequently updated charges against the pair, accusing both of torture. A murder conviction would mean 25 years to life, while a jury finding the torture allegation is true would lead to a lifetime in prison with no parole, Walsh has said.
McCauley’s defense attorney, Kelly Babineau, filed a motion to dismiss the torture allegation, arguing that Heidelberger should uphold the decision made by Sloven after the evidentiary hearing.
“We heard extensive testimony and all the evidence was very clear,” Babineau said. “Michael McCauley was not present during any of the torture.”
Her client, she said, was “shocked and appalled” when he arrived at the house, and “never shared any intent of inflicting torture — or even of killing” Norman.
“His reaction was one of horror,” Babineau said, pointing out that McCauley tried to convince Bryant to call 911 and did get him to perform CPR.
Walsh, however, said McCauley stood over Norman with a bat, asked Bryant if that was what he really wanted him to do, and then hit him with it, clearly demonstrating an intent to kill.
“He was in the role of accomplice,” Walsh said. “It doesn’t matter if he didn’t inflict torture, as long as he had an intent to kill. Under the law, he should be held (equally) responsible.”
Heidelberger did not indicate when she would issue her ruling on the motion to dismiss the torture allegation, But any potential motion to sever the cases against McCauley and Bryant will be scheduled in mid-December or early January, she said. A trial readiness conference remains on the calendar for Jan. 24, with the trial set to start Feb. 18.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
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