Suspects enter no contest pleas |

Suspects enter no contest pleas

At one time facing attempted murder charges, two men accused of trying to steal marijuana at gunpoint on San Juan Ridge pleaded no contest to lesser charges Monday in Nevada County Superior Court.

Barnabus Gray, 24, pleaded no contest to assault with a deadly weapon, use of a firearm, possession of a stolen gun, possession of methamphetamine for sale and assault on a fellow jail inmate. Michael Montes, 29, pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit grand theft.

Gray faces six years in prison, Montes four years in prison, Assistant District Attorney Ron Wolfson said. He said Montes’ sentence was doubled from two years because he admitted having a strike under the state’s three-strikes law.

Both men faced a more serious charge of attempted murder.

“Under the circumstances, the plea is appropriate,” Montes’ lawyer, Scott Thomsen, said. He said the plea bargain calls for Montes to serve four years in prison.

Efforts to reach Gray’s public defender, Gary Gordon, were unsuccessful.

Sentencing was set for Jan. 27, although the judge must first approve the pleas.

The pair was charged with trying to steal marijuana from a Ridge greenhouse at a Lake City Road home on Oct. 3, 2001. Residents evaded gunfire after rushing outside their homes upon hearing the defendants trying to shoot off the greenhouse lock with a semiautomatic gun, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

A key witness, Michael Brewer, 24, was also the alleged mastermind of the incident. He was sentenced to probation and a year in jail after his conviction for conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

But Wolfson said that Brewer’s testimony was inconsistent and that he had concerns it couldn’t be corroborated, which the law requires, because the victims became uncooperative and hard to reach.

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