Both sides hurl charges in Penn Valley pot murder case
April 20, 2018
There was more drama in court Friday during a hearing for the lone remaining defendant in the murder of a marijuana grow caretaker, with the defense attorney and prosecutor accusing each other of lying.
Finley Fultz, 28, Nathan Philbrook, 34, and Daniel Devencenzi, 33, all had been charged with murder in the July 7, 2014, shooting of Isaac Zafft in Penn Valley marijuana grow.
Earlier this month, Philbrook and Devencenzi pleaded guilty, with Fultz's attorney, Greg Klein, claiming that he was not served with proper notice of the plea hearing and that his client's due process was violated because Fultz wasn't present.
Philbrook pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempted second-degree robbery in return for 23 years in prison. Devencenzi will get 11 years in prison after pleading to manslaughter.
During a subsequent hearing, Klein complained prosecutors had impeded his ability to speak to his client by relocating him to Placer County, and refused to proceed with the hearing. Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh countered the hearing had been requested by Klein in the first place, and asked the judge to set aside Klein's requests and set a trial date.
The hearing was eventually postponed and re-set for Friday.
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Defense attorney: 'Not what I signed up for'
On Friday, Klein came out swinging, telling Judge Tom Anderson Walsh was "straight-up dishonest" during the previous court hearing, which involved a visiting judge.
At issue for Klein was the timing of hearings on motions he had filed — a motion to compel the release of discovery evidence and a motion to dismiss the charges — as well as Walsh's move to set trial dates.
Klein then raised the possibility he would bow out as appointed counsel for Fultz.
"If you want to set trial dates, I'm not going to complain, but I will not commit to be counsel on those dates," he said.
Walsh fired back, telling Anderson, "He has accused me of dishonesty. That's not something I take lightly."
Klein interrupted him, saying, "He's being dishonest right now … This is an adversarial proceeding and we have moved to the adversarial level."
According to Walsh, Klein also accused him of being dishonest at a prior hearing, a charge he disputed, Walsh told Anderson he would ask for sanctions if Klein continued throwing around empty accusations.
"If he doesn't like the accusation, maybe he should stop lying," Klein retorted.
Klein also reiterated his complaint that the transfer of Fultz to Placer County was hampering his defense, saying, "This is not what I signed up for … I would like my client brought back to Wayne Brown (correctional facility)."
On that issue, Anderson agreed that it is a burden for Klein to have to travel to Placer County to meet with his client, noting that there must be "reasonable access" and that Fultz is facing a life sentence. He told Klein to file a motion on the issue.
Anderson also set a date for both sides to meet regarding the discovery Klein says has not been provided, as well as a subsequent hearing on May 4 if the issues do not get resolved.
On May 4, Anderson also will set a date for the hearing to dismiss charges, as well as trial dates.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.