UPDATE: Grass Valley police arrest seven men on murder charge
UPDATE at 5:09 p.m. Nov. 11:
A marijuana deal gone bad ended with a woman on life support and seven men in custody on murder charges, authorities said Wednesday.
Grass Valley police officers, with the help of multiple agencies including the Davis police department, conducted a multi-room raid at a Davis hotel Tuesday afternoon and detained 10 people in connection with the shooting. Seven men were determined to be directly involved and were arrested, Grass Valley Police Capt. Steve Johnson said.
William Levise, 31; Trey Rondal Richard, 22; Ronney Turner, 31; Juan Jerome McHenry, 31; Devon Deontae Jennings, 21; and Laderrick Timothy Wynn, 20, all of Dallas, Texas; along with Dakari Mondell Harris, 22, of Shreveport, Louisiana, were booked into custody on charges of murder, criminal conspiracy and grand theft. Turner also faces a fugitive from justice warrant. All seven men remained held Wednesday without bail, according to Nevada County Jail records.
The woman was shot after a confrontation Saturday night, when the suspects tried to purchase a “significant” amount of marijuana with fake money, Johnson said,
The suspects, all from out of the area, had gone to a residence on South Ponderosa Way near Rough and Ready Highway.
“During the course of the transaction, they gave money to sellers that was fake,” Johnson said.
According to Johnson, the money was not counterfeit, which would have meant the bills were printed to resemble real currency as closely as possible. Rather, it was prop money similar to what is used on movie sets.
“It looks real, but in the printing, it will say ‘movie picture money,’ something like that,” he said, adding that it is not illegal and can be purchased online. “From a distance, or in a pile, it looks real.”
When the sellers realized the money was fake, a confrontation ensued, Johnson said. The would-be buyers fled in an undetermined number of vehicles and two people began chasing them up Rough and Ready Highway into Grass Valley.
“The pursuers caught up (to one vehicle) in the area of Alta and Main streets,” he said. “When they tried to pull in front of them and box them in, shots were fired from the buyers’ vehicle.”
One of the shots struck the passenger in the seller’s vehicle, a 36-year-old Nevada County woman, in the head, Johnson said. The suspects fled and the driver of the car that had been chasing them began driving to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. A Grass Valley patrol officer spotted the vehicle speeding and running stop lights around 11:30 p.m., Johnson said. He activated his lights and tried to overtake the vehicle, following it all the way to the hospital.
The woman has a mortal head wound and is on life support without brain activity, Johnson said. Her name has not been released pending notification of next of kin.
Detectives were able to identify vehicles that were driven by the suspects and track them to the Davis hotel, he said, adding that his agency worked closely with investigators from the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office.
“We were watching (the hotel) and waiting for the right opportunity, and it presented itself Tuesday afternoon,” Johnson said, adding the arrests went smoothly. “They were completely unaware we were watching them, their guard was down. … They didn’t have a chance to react before they were detained.”
Johnson had high praise for the agencies that assisted in what he called an “extremely dynamic, high-risk situation” with homicide suspects known to be armed.
“There were 10 people in multiple rooms, and multiple vehicles in the parking lot,” he said. “We did not want to place any bystanders in danger and wanted to minimize the risks. There were a lot of moving parts and a lot of coordination between the agencies. … The Davis police department was a tremendous help, as was the California Highway Patrol with aircraft overhead, and the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.”
Detectives served search warrants on the hotel rooms and located a semi-automatic pistol consistent with what might have been used in the shooting, Johnson said, adding that forensic and ballistics tests will be done on the weapon. They also recovered more than 30 pounds of processed marijuana and a large stockpile of fake currency, he said.
Three of those detained were not determined to have a “tight connection” and were not arrested, Johnson said, adding the investigation is ongoing.
Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh stressed that while the suspects were booked into custody based on probable cause, his office has not yet filed charges. Walsh noted the case is unusual in that the victim could be considered legally dead even though she was on life support as of Wednesday afternoon.
“We have until Friday to make a decision,” he said. “It’s likely we will file charges then and they will be arraigned that day.”
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE at 10:13 a.m. Nov. 11:
On Saturday, November 7, at about 11:30 pm, Grass Valley Police Officers observed a vehicle speeding through town. They followed the vehicle as it sped to the hospital where officers learned that a female passenger in the vehicle had sustained a gunshot wound to the head.
In questioning the male driver, officers learned that several individuals had come from out of the area to purchase Marijuana. They met with the sellers in the South Ponderosa Road area. At some point during the transaction, it became apparent that the suspects were using fake money to purchase the Marijuana. A disagreement ensued which led to a car chase as the suspects tried to flee the area with the Marijuana. The cars headed towards Grass Valley on Rough-and-Ready Hwy. Near the intersection of West Main Street and Alta Street, one of the suspects fired multiple shots at the pursuing vehicle. One of the rounds struck a female passenger in the head.
In the ensuing 48 hours, Grass Valley Detectives were able to identify vehicles that were driven by the suspects and track them to a hotel in the city of Davis, California.
Yesterday, November 10, Detectives were able to apprehend 7 individuals whom they believe were involved in the drug transaction and shooting. Detectives also recovered a pistol, over 30 lbs of processed Marijuana, and a large stockpile of fake currency.
The 7 individuals were booked for Homicide, Grand Theft, and Criminal Conspiracy.
Throughout the investigation, investigators from the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office worked closely with the Grass Valley Detectives. The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, the Davis Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol assisted in the apprehension of the suspects.
The arrested parties were the following:
- William Levise, 31 years old – from Dallas TX
- Trey Richard, 22 years old – from Dallas TX
- Ronney Turner, 31 years old – from Dallas TX
- Juan McHenry, 31 years old – from Dallas TX
- Devon Jennings, 21 years old – from Dallas TX
- Laderrick Wynn, 20 years old – from Dallas TX
- Dakari Harris, 22 years old – from Shreveport LA
Seven men arrested early Wednesday by Grass Valley police face a murder charge, Nevada County Jail reports state.
William Levise, 31; Trey Rondal Richard, 22; Ronney Turner, 31; Juan Jerome McHenry, 31; and Devon Deontae Jennings, 21, all of Dallas; along with Dakari Mondell Harris, 22, of Shreveport, Louisiana; and Laderrick Timothy Wynn, 20, of Nevada City, all face charges of murder, criminal conspiracy and a felony theft accusation. Turner also faces a fugitive from justice warrant, reports state.
The men were booked early Wednesday into jail, records state.
Check back for more information.
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In a victory for Nevada County prosecutors, an appeals court has reversed a local judge’s dismissal of the case against murder suspect Finley Fultz, ordering that the case be taken up again in trial court.