A Loleta teen charged with killing three people Feb. 10 on the Bear River Rancheria has been charged with murder with special circumstances, meaning if convicted he would qualify for either the death penalty or life in prison without possibility of parole.
In the criminal complaint from the District Attorney’s Office, Mauricio Eduardo Sanchez-Johnson is charged with three counts of murder for the deaths of Nikki Dion Metcalf, Margarett Lee Moon and Moon’s daughter Shelly Moon, who is referred to in the complaint as Jane Doe.
Sanchez-Johnson also faces the special allegations of personally and intentionally discharging a firearm causing death or great bodily injury and personally using a handgun. The special circumstance in the case is having multiple victims.
Sanchez-Johnson was arrested the day after the killings in Tooele County, Utah, as he was driving east on Interstate 80. He remains in jail in Tooele and had his first court appearance today.
Attorney Andrea Sullivan, who is based in Lake County but handles many Humboldt cases, has been hired to represent the teen and has visited him in Utah. Sullivan said there have been “all sorts of inaccuracies and crazy rumors” on social media about the case. One false rumor she wanted to clear up was that Sanchez-Johnson and Shelly Moon, 16, were romantically involved. Sullivan said that is untrue.
“They were part of an extended family at the rancheria,” she said. “There was no romantic relationship.”
Both Sanchez-Johnson and Von Eric Keener, who was in the car with Sanchez-Johnson when he was arrested, have court hearings tomorrow before Third District Judge Dianna Gibson. Keener, 46, is the boyfriend of Sanchez-Johnson’s mother. The mother, Melissa Sanchez-Johnson, was following behind her son and boyfriend in another vehicle when they were stopped on I-80. She was taken into custody but released.
Sullivan said she has no information on when Sanchez-Johnson might be extradited to Humboldt County.