The three remaining suspects in a December 2016 murder and carjacking will go to trial separately in March, with one of their former co-defendants testifying for the prosecution.
This morning Judge Christopher Wilson set a trial date of March 5 for Brandon James Mitchell, accused of shooting 20-year-old Tyson Eduardo Claros to death during a carjacking near Manila. Co-defendant Tamara Nicole Thomson’s trial was set for March 26. And Thomson’s boyfriend, Cesar Valenzuela-Campos, was scheduled earlier for a March 19 jury trial.
An important witness against the three is expected to be 19-year-old Catherine “Catie” Suzanne Lynn Fode, mother of Mitchell’s young daughter. Fode was once also charged with murder and carjacking but will plead to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for cooperating with the District Attorney’s Office. Fode faces a faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison, while the others could go for life if convicted.
Defendant number five was 22-year-old Hector Godoy-Standley, Fode’s boyfriend at the time of the killing. He was diagnosed as developmentally disabled and sent to a state hospital.
Thomson, 19, was identified as a suspect by eyewitness “Jane Doe,” who was driving the car Claros was riding in. Thomson and Valenzuela-Campos, 24, were arrested first and spoke to sheriff’s detectives, implicating themselves and the others.
According to Thomson, Mitchell and Fode wanted revenge against Claros because they believed he molested their little girl. That accusation was investigated but never charged. Thomson, although she allegedly pulled a gun on Claros and Jane Doe during the carjacking, told officers she thought the plan was just to beat Claros up.
Accused shooter Mitchell, 23, also was recently charged with possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia in the jail. Given that all three trials are set within days of each other and are expected to last for weeks, it remains to be seen when they will actually take place. Other major cases are also coming up for trial.
Mitchell is represented by Deputy Conflict Counsel Marek Reavis, while Thomson’s attorney Is David Nims and Valenzuela’s is Deputy Public Defender Casey Russo. The three are being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Schaffer.
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