Schennal Gomez, once facing a murder charge in Nevada County, now free | TheUnion.com

Schennal Gomez, once facing a murder charge in Nevada County, now free

A woman once facing murder accusations is free after a Nevada County judge determined that not enough evidence existed to jail her, authorities said.

Schennal Gomez, 40, was released Friday from the Nevada County Jail after Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven found credibility issues with a witness who testified during a preliminary hearing, Deputy District Attorney Ed Grubaugh said.

Sloven found that enough evidence does exist against Gomez's codefendant, 28-year-old Christopher Bancroft, the prosecutor said. He remained Monday in jail without bond, and is next scheduled for court on Aug. 24.

Bancroft is accused in the June 2016 slaying of Donald Ormsby, 51. Authorities arrested Bancroft and Gomez in May.

"At this point and time, we've not refiled charges," Grubaugh said, adding it's unlikely he would, barring new evidence against Gomez.

Defense attorney David Alkire, who represents Gomez, slammed the top brass of the District Attorney's Office for charging his client with murder. He said Gomez's release is only the second time in 45 years of practicing law he's seen a judge fail to find probable cause in a murder case.

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"The burden of proof at a preliminary hearing is negligible," said Alkire, who in 2014 ran unsuccessfully against District Attorney Cliff Newell. "That's a problem at the top."

Newell said Alkire is entitled to his opinion.

"He did his job. We did ours," Newell said. "I'm not going to respond directly to his comments."

During last month's preliminary hearing the judge heard that Bancroft, Gomez and Ormsby planned to burglarize a Countrywood Lane home. A detective testified that Gomez saw Bancroft slash at Ormsby's head with a shovel.

The judge also heard testimony that Bancroft met a friend in Ormsby's car the day after the slaying. The pair drove to Roseville to shop, and Bancroft tried unsuccessfully to use Ormsby's bank card.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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