Defendant in Nevada County jail OD case withraws plea |

Defendant in Nevada County jail OD case withraws plea

Conner Milkey

A man accused of smuggling drugs into the county jail, which allegedly led to the overdose death of another inmate, has withdrawn his agreement to a plea he made earlier this year.

Conner Milkey, 25, had pleaded no contest to one felony count of bringing drugs into the jail. The plea deal called for three years’ probation and a drug treatment program, along with credit for serving 276 days in jail.

Now that he has withdrawn that plea, after an attorney determined there were grounds, an additional charge of involuntary manslaughter has been reinstated.

The accusations against Milkey stem from the May 2016 death of Joshua Hightower-Malta.

According to court records, Milkey was arrested in 2016 and taken to the local jail on a drug charge. Milkey allegedly smuggled 11 grams of heroin into jail and then shared it with friends in the jail.

At the time of Hightower-Malta’s death, authorities didn’t have enough evidence to charge Milkey. But in July 2017, Milkey was arrested again and while in jail, he reportedly made a phone call admitting to smuggling drugs into the jail the year before.

On Friday, the attorney charged with reviewing Milkey’s case told Nevada County Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger he was withdrawing the plea.

Milkey’s case will be assigned again to his prior attorney, Jennifer Granger. He was set to enter a new plea on May 4.

Stabbing suspect sentenced

A man accused of stabbing two people in Grass Valley was sentenced Friday after pleading no contest to assault with a deadly weapon.

Eugene Maravel, 69, was arrested on Aug. 6, 2017 on North School Street in Grass Valley after he reportedly stabbed two people in the abdomen and back, respectively. Both victims were treated and released within days.

In September, a judge suspended the case against him to give a doctor time to perform a competency evaluation. Maravel was ruled competent the following month and the case resumed.

Maravel’s sentencing had been delayed while his defense attorney sought to finalize a mental health treatment plan.

On Friday, Heidelberger noted he had been in custody longer than anticipated, adding, “I want to make sure everything is in place and we know what the plan is.”

Heidelberger sentenced him to 358 days in jail with credit for good conduct and time served, and five years formal probation. Maravel was to be released Monday to his sister and go to probation to determine his treatment plan, to include monthly psychiatric appointments and therapy. He was to return to court in two weeks to ensure the plan was in place and then again in four months to check on his compliance.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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