Murder trial’s opening statements scrutinized |

Murder trial’s opening statements scrutinized

Attorneys in the Lauren Hayes murder trial are wrangling over what evidence will be presented in opening arguments and witness testimony, expected to begin sometime this month.

Hayes, 24, will stand trial for the robbery and murder of her ex-boyfriend Lawrence Leffingwell, who was found shot in the back of the neck in his Cadillac at Edward’s Crossing at the Yuba River on Sept. 5, 2003.

The trial is has been in the jury selection phase since Feb. 22.

This week, Nevada County Public Defender Thomas Anderson filed a motion requesting that material be stricken from the prosecutor’s arguments, including allegations that Hayes stole from her former boyfriends and hearsay statements that Leffingwell was contemplating reporting to the police that Hayes was stealing from him.

“There is no evidence of her taking anything from anybody,” Anderson said. “It’s mere speculation, at best.”

Nevada County Superior Court Judge John Darlington said Tuesday he would not admit Assistant District Attorney Ron Wolfson’s statements that Leffingwell was thinking about turning Hayes in because they cannot be corroborated. He also said he will not admit statements that Hayes stole from old boyfriends she lived with.

Wolfson agreed not to use the material in his opening statements.

Material that Anderson failed to have removed as evidence include testimony from a Placer County Jail inmate who said Hayes talked to her about the murder, and an allegation that Hayes murdered for money – approximately $400 Leffingwell signed for at a bank a few hours before his death.

Anderson also wanted to suppress testimony regarding discovery of the gun used in the murder, but Darlington said he would not suppress it.

In jury selection proceedings Wednesday, Darlington admonished 66 potential jurors not to read or listen to local media accounts or talk about the case with anyone.

Jury selection is scheduled to continue 9 a.m. Tuesday in Nevada County Superior Court.

To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail or call 477-4236.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User