Witness: Christopher Bancroft told friend he killed Donald Ormsby | TheUnion.com

Witness: Christopher Bancroft told friend he killed Donald Ormsby

Christopher Bancroft, facing a murder charge in the death of Donald Ormsby, told a friend in 2016 that he'd killed the 51-year-old man — an allegation Bancroft immediately retracted, saying he was testing his friend's loyalty, a detective testified Tuesday.

Bancroft, 28, on June 18, 2016, asked Ashlee Dalton about moving a body. Bancroft had arrived at Dalton's home in Ormsby's car, and they drove to the Roseville area to shop. Edgy and agitated, Bancroft unsuccessfully tried to use Ormsby's debit card at a Rocklin Target. At some point Bancroft told Dalton about an attack, Sheriff's Detective Rhiannon King testified.

"He had said that he'd killed him — that Mr. Bancroft had killed Mr. Ormsby," King added.

Bancroft quickly retracted the comment, saying he was testing Dalton, the detective said.

Dalton told Bancroft she didn't want to help him move someone's body. At some point she spotted a shovel in the vehicle and items from Ormsby's wallet, King said.

Dalton several weeks ago again spoke with King. Remembering King, Dalton cursed and said she wanted to protect Bancroft. The details Dalton said she gave King in 2016 weren't correct, the detective testified.

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Accusations

King testified Tuesday in Nevada County Superior Court in the preliminary hearing of Bancroft and Schennal Christina Gomez, 39. Both face a murder charge in connection with Ormsby's death.

Authorities in 2016 called Bancroft a person of interest in Ormsby's death. They charged Bancroft and Gomez in May with murder.

A handful of witnesses testified Tuesday in the case, including Wallace Tarp, who once dated Gomez. Currently incarcerated in Nevada, Tarp was given immunity by prosecutors to testify in the case.

On the witness stand, Tarp said Gomez approached him, nervous and scared, in June 2016.

"She said, 'Don was dead,'" Tarp said. "Christopher Bancroft had done it."

According to Tarp, the slaying happened during a burglary planned by Ormsby, Bancroft and Gomez. On that night Bancroft struck Ormsby with a shovel. Gomez then tried to decapitate Ormsby.

Bancroft told Dalton that Ormsby had received a cash settlement of over $40,000, King testified.

"She said she ended his life with a shovel," Tarp said of Gomez. "I didn't believe her. Our relationship was full of lies."

Under questioning by defense attorney David Alkire, who represents Gomez, Tarp said he'd struck Gomez in the past. He also clashed with Ormsby over who should sell drugs near a downtown Grass Valley grocery store.

Timeline

Grass Valley Police Officer Brian Covella testified Tarp assaulted Gomez on June 10, 2016. Seven days later the officer responded to an altercation involving Tarp and Ormsby. Tarp told the officer Ormsby was going to the hospital with Gomez.

According to King, Dalton said Bancroft arrived at her home in Ormsby's car on June 18, 2016. Sheriff's Sgt. Robert Jakobs testified that he saw Bancroft and Dalton on video surveillance at the Rocklin Target, and that Bancroft unsuccessfully tried to use Ormsby's debit card twice.

Covella testified that over the next few nights he spotted Ormsby's vehicle parked near Condon Park. Contacting Ormsby's mother, Covella learned she'd last seen her son on June 17, 2016.

Early June 25, 2016, Covella was flagged down by someone concerned about a possible car break-in.

The officer found Bancroft by Ormsby's vehicle. Bancroft said he'd recently bought the car, and locked his keys and guitar in the trunk.

Bancroft was briefly detained and then released. Another officer hours later spotted Bancroft driving that car, Covella said.

King testified that on June 27, 2016, she responded to a body that had been discovered on Countrywood Lane. The body, partially covered by foliage, later was identified as belonging to Ormsby.

Dr. Gregory Reiber, who performed the autopsy, testified that Ormsby's death was a homicide. He died of blunt force head trauma.

The preliminary hearing continues today.

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

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