Daniel Devencenzi, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in marijuana grow shooting, sentenced to 11 years
Daniel Devencenzi said little on Wednesday as a Nevada County judge sentenced him to 11 years in prison on a manslaughter charge.
Devencenzi, who pleaded guilty in April, waited months to appear in court.
One reason for the delay was that prosecutors wanted the 34-year-old to undergo a second round of questioning in the murder case of Finley Fultz, a codefendant accused in the 2014 fatal shooting of Isaac Zafft at a Penn Valley marijuana grow. Fultz, 29, had a mistrial in October.
Terminally ill, Devencenzi never appeared for that questioning. Superior Court Judge Tom Anderson last month dismissed Fultz’s murder case, citing errors by prosecutors and law enforcement. He also called another round of questioning for Devencenzi moot.
That decision then led attorneys to schedule Devencenzi’s sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said.
According to Walsh, he tried for months to set Devencenzi’s sentencing date but couldn’t because the judge ruled Devencenzi was unavailable.
In early November, about a month after Fultz’s mistrial, Walsh in court filings claimed Anderson had political bias that affected Fultz’s case, and he asked for the judge’s removal.
An out-of-county magistrate found no ethics issues and Anderson remained. The judge last month dismissed Fultz’s case, a decision that’s been appealed. Devencenzi then appeared Wednesday in court.
Anderson asked Devencenzi if he understood the proceedings and the 11-year sentence he’d receive. In a wheelchair, Devencenzi said he did.
“I’ve discussed this procedure with him,” said defense attorney Kenneth Tribby, who represents Devencenzi. “He’s a bit on the upside this week.”
Attorneys have said Devencenzi and Nathan Philbrook, who also pleaded guilty in connection with Zafft’s death, could receive reduced sentences under a new law.
Of the three, only Fultz was accused of shooting Zafft — the other two were present but fingered Fultz as the one who pulled the trigger. That distinction now means Devencenzi and Philbrook, 34, can’t be convicted of murder, or in their cases manslaughter.
Philbrook pleaded guilty in April to manslaughter and second-degree attempted robbery. He received 23 years in prison.
Defense attorney David Alkire, who represents Philbrook, filed a petition Wednesday asking that his client be re-sentenced.
No date has been set for that hearing.
“I hope it will be in the near future,” Alkire said.
According to court records, Devencenzi has filed no petition asking for re-sentencing.
Alkire’s petition states that Philbrook’s plea to manslaughter should be withdrawn, leaving only his plea to attempted robbery. Philbrook would then receive a five-year prison sentence.
Walsh disagreed with Alkire, saying Phibrook’s criminal history could lengthen his prison time.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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