Three people charged with murder after a deadly hash-lab explosion in Rio Dell pleaded guilty today to lesser charges in exchange for having murder charges dismissed.
Arron Mohr, 24, admitted to voluntary manslaughter and drug charges and faces a maximum prison term of 12 years and eight months. Tamara Gayle Paul, 33, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, drug charges and child endangerment and could be sent to prison for up to seven years and eight months. And her husband, 38-year-old David Gerald Paul, admitted to drug charges and child endangerment and could receive a maximum prison term of four years and eight months.
The Pauls and Mohr were arrested after the butane-fueled hash lab in the Pauls’ detached garage exploded on Nov. 9, 2016. Xavier Paul Renner, 21, died from his burns a few weeks later.
Renner, Mohr and 23-year-old Aaron Schisler had been making hash oil in the garage, renting it from David and Tamara Paul. Schisler escaped and remains a fugitive.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 9, and the three will remain in custody until then. The Humboldt County Probation Department will review the cases and make recommendations on appropriate sentences.
Attorney Ben Okin, representing Mohr, told Judge John Feeney that Renner’s death was a tragedy for Mohr, and he’s reminded of it every time he looks in the mirror and sees the scars from his burns.
“These three kids (Mohr, Renner and Schisler) were very close,” Okin said. “They grew up together.”
Okin said Renner’s family “did not want a murder prosecution.”
Outside of court, Deputy District Attorney Adrian Kamada said the Renner family’s wishes were one factor in deciding to reduce the charges. Also, he said, it was discovered Renner had been part of the hash-lab operation for much longer than previously thought.
Renner had apparently been involved in the operation for at least a year, Kamada said.
Tamara Paul is considered more culpable than her husband because, despite her claims that she didn’t know the men were making hash oil with butane, text messages between her and Mohr indicated she was well-aware of what the men were doing.
The Pauls had two young children in their home, which led to the convictions for child-endangerment.
The three men had been paying the Pauls $200 a month for renting the garage, which was destroyed in the fire and explosions that rocked the residential neighborhood in Rio Dell.
Tamara Paul was represented by attorney Larry Killoran, and David Paul by Deputy Public Defender Ben McLaughlin.
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