Nevada County home invasion case ends in conviction
A Nevada County jury took less than an afternoon on Monday to convict Michael Diaz on charges of home invasion robbery and burglary, prosecutors said.
Authorities accused Diaz, 48, of the Dec. 11, 2017, break-in of a Grizzly Trail home. Jailed that day, Diaz now awaits a second court proceeding to determine whether prior convictions will affect his sentence. Prosecutors said Diaz potentially could face up to 23 years in prison.
“Obviously we’re very pleased with the verdict,” Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said. “We think it was the correct and just result.”
The trial, which began two weeks ago, ended a few hours after attorneys on both sides delivered their closing arguments.
Deputy District Attorney Casey Ayer told jurors that Diaz knew his cousin had a safe in his Grizzly Trail home when he drove to Nevada County from Texas to steal it.
Diaz had two men with him when they tied the tenant’s hands behind his back after forcing their way inside. Diaz stole items from his cousin and the tenant, working with his accomplices as they robbed and burglarized the home, Ayer said.
“He even said, ‘Please don’t rob me of my money,’” Ayer said of the victim. “It’s all I have.”
Deputy Public Defender Micah Pierce, who represents Diaz, told jurors they shouldn’t believe the victim. His testimony contradicted itself, and Pierce said what prosecutors called a robbery could instead be a marijuana deal gone wrong.
Pierce declined comment Monday afternoon.
Ayer in her arguments focused on elements of the crime she had to prove to convict Diaz. Jurors had to determine that Diaz took property that wasn’t his, used force or fear when taking it and intended to deprive the victim of his property.
The men knocked down the victim, dragged him around, shouted at and threatened him, Ayer said.
“He’s not consenting,” she added. “That would not be reasonable.”
Authorities have said the victim escaped and the three suspects fled the scene. Ayer said the victim identified Diaz the day of his arrest.
Pierce argued to jurors that the victim and the homeowner lied when testifying. The victim gave different versions of events and the homeowner misled the jury about the number of marijuana plants at the home, Pierce said.
“Is his story credible?” Pierce asked of the victim.
Diaz’s attorney questioned if it would take five hours for two men to load stolen items into a truck. He argued that the truck was stuck, yet the men supposedly still chose to commit a home invasion.
“Does that make sense to you?” Pierce asked.
The two other men in the case — Steve Ray Rhodes and Shawn Turnage — accepted plea deals last year. Both were sentenced to six years in prison, reports state.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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