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Byrnes pleads no contest to abuse of child

A 63-year-old Grass Valley man has pleaded no contest to continual sexual abuse of a child.

Kenneth Alan Byrnes was arrested in August after the girl, who is now 15, told a counselor he had abused her over the course of several years, until she was 12.

Byrnes was charged with lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14, oral copulation with a child under 10, continual sexual abuse of a child and preventing a victim from reporting a crime.

He pleaded no contest to the one count in Nevada County Superior Court Thursday afternoon, under a plea agreement that asks for as much as 12 years in prison. The other counts will be dismissed at his sentencing.

Byrnes’ sentencing was tentatively set for mid-June after Deputy Public Defender Keri Klein said there would be a number of witnesses testifying for him. He is being held in the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility in lieu of $150,000 bail.

In other court news:

A preliminary hearing was set for 9 a.m. Tuesday in the case against Gregory Donald DeWolf, 31, on charges of possession of a dangerous weapon, possession of a controlled substance while armed, transportation of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for sale, being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of marijuana for sale, and carrying a loaded firearm in a public place.

DeWolf allegedly was driving on Highway 49 at about 1:30 a.m. April 3 when he was pulled over for having expired registration tags on his vehicle. A search of DeWolf’s vehicle allegedly revealed a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun in the center console, along with two small plastic baggies containing approximately a quarter-ounce of crystal methamphetamine.

Detectives searched DeWolf’s residence in the 13000 block of Rocky Lane, in Grass Valley, and allegedly found a large indoor marijuana grow, and a total of eight weapons – five rifles and three handguns, three of which are considered assault weapons. Officers also allegedly found drug paraphernalia, packaging materials, a digital scale, pay-owe sheets, methamphetamine, several vials of steroids, and processed marijuana.

DeWolf pleaded not guilty and is currently in custody in lieu of $150,000 bail. A motion by the prosecution to examine the source of bail funds, and a motion by the defense to suppress evidence, will also be heard Tuesday.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail lkellar@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4229.

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