2 men plead guilty to manslaughter charge in Nevada County pot grow murder case
Two of three men facing charges in connection with the 2014 shooting death of a man at a Penn Valley marijuana grow pleaded guilty Thursday to manslaughter.
Nathan Philbrook, 34, and Daniel Devencenzi, 33, remain in the Nevada County Jail pending their sentencing, which hasn’t been scheduled. Both must testify in the trial of their codefendant, 28-year-old Finley Fultz, before they’re sentenced for the shooting death of Isaac Zafft.
Under the agreement, Philbrook, who also pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree robbery, will be sentenced to 23 years in prison. Devencenzi will receive an 11-year prison sentence, Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said.
“I think their testimony will be helpful in convicting Finley Fultz, who in the people’s view is the most egregious,” Walsh told Nevada County Superior Court Judge Tom Anderson.
Fultz’s trial date on a murder charge isn’t yet scheduled. Attorneys will return to court May 3 to discuss a sentencing date for Philbrook and Devencenzi.
Prosecutors allege the three men on July 7, 2014, intended to rob a Penn Valley grow. Watching that grow, Zafft was fatally shot.
Defense attorney Kenneth Tribby, who represents Devencenzi, said the plea deal was reached after many discussions with the prosecutor.
Walsh told the judge the pleas carry appropriate punishments for the two men, adding that evidence points to Fultz as the triggerman.
The hearing was interrupted briefly when defense attorney Greg Klein, who represents Fultz, entered the courtroom and objected. He said his client’s due process was violated because Fultz wasn’t present for the pleas.
“I just heard this was going on right now,” Klein said.
Anderson called the hearing an entry of plea proceeding and disagreed with Klein’s argument. He then continued with the hearing.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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