Thorpe pleads innocent
Nevada County District Attorney Mike Ferguson said he will not seek the death penalty for Scott Harlan Thorpe, who was indicted Monday in connection with the Jan. 10, 2001, slayings.
The death penalty is reserved for monsters, Ferguson said moments after Thorpe, 42, pled innocent to three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder before Nevada County Superior Court Judge Carl Bryan.
“Mr. Thorpe is not a monster,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson, who made the decision in consultation with other attorneys in his office, said he expects Thorpe to plead innocent by reason of insanity.
Bryan said any further pleas would have to be entered by Nov. 8.
Thorpe’s lawyer, Public Defender Thomas Anderson, said he was not surprised that Ferguson decided not to seek the death penalty because of the nature of the case. His client, he said, was a very sick person who was not treated appropriately.
“That does not diminish the horror of what happened,” he said, “but it does provide some perspective.”
It’s premature to make a decision on changing Thorpe’s plea to not guilty by reason of insanity, Anderson added.
Thorpe’s indictment occurred less than a week after Superior Court Judge Ersel Edwards found him competent to stand trial for allegedly killing three people and wounding two others.
Laura Wilcox, 19, a college student, and Pearlie Mae Feldman, 68, a caregiver, were killed at the Behavioral Health Department building off Willow Way. Minutes later, Mike Markle, 24, an assistant manager, was shot dead at Lyon’s Restaurant on Nevada City Highway.
Thorpe was also indicted for the attempted murder of Judith Edzards, a health technician at Behavioral Health, and Richard “Rick” Senuty, a cook at Lyon’s, both of whom were wounded during the shootings.
But Dr. George Heitzman, a former county psychiatrist who was listed as a victim of attempted murder in the complaint Ferguson filed Jan. 12, 2001, was not named in the indictment unsealed Monday.
Monday’s arraignment was delayed for 90 minutes after Anderson filed an application to disqualify Edwards from the case.
Anderson said he was not at liberty to say why his client preferred another judge.
Bryan set a pre-trial conference for 9 a.m. Nov. 14. He hopes to set a trial for either mid- or late-January, he said.
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