Nevada County judge orders mistrial in murder case
A judge in the murder trial of Finley Fultz on Tuesday ordered a mistrial, stopping the prosecution in its tracks and setting the stage for a retrial, attorneys said.
Attorneys are scheduled to return Oct. 19 to court and set a new trial date after Nevada County Superior Court Judge Tom Anderson called for the mistrial, court officials said.
District Attorney Cliff Newell in an email said the judge determined evidence violations warranted the mistrial. Defense attorney Greg Klein, who represents the 28-year-old Fultz, called it prosecutorial misconduct — a phrase Newell disputes.
“I strongly disagree with the court’s ruling both factually and legally,” Newell said. “My office will continue to pursue justice in this case. Ultimately, we look forward to holding all parties involved in the murder of Isaac Zafft accountable and bring some closure to the Zafft family.”
Klein said prosecutors failed to turn over evidence.
“The inability of Mr. Fultz to get a fair trial,” he added. “That’s prosecutorial misconduct.”
According to Klein, the judge said prosecutors withheld evidence without good cause. That meant Klein couldn’t properly question certain witnesses.
Authorities allege that Fultz, Nathan Philbrook and Daniel Devencenzi tried in July 2014 to rob a Penn Valley marijuana grow. Zafft, 27, was at the grow and was fatally shot.
An anonymous tip given to authorities by Philbrook’s wife at the time led officers to identify the three men as suspects.
Philbrook, 34, and Devencenzi, 33, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and testified against Fultz, who authorities claim is the triggerman.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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