Saturday, 15 June 2024

Attorney seeks Hopkins' removal from Hughes case

LAKE COUNTY – With jury selection set to begin later this month for Renato Hughes' trial, his attorney is asking a judge to remove the district attorney from the case, a move the prosecution calls a delay tactic.

San Francisco attorney Stuart Hanlon told Lake County News this week that he has filed a motion to have District Attorney Jon Hopkins and his department recused from the case.

Hanlon's 23-year-old client is accused of the homicides of friends Rashad Williams and Christian Foster.

Hopkins alleges that the three men broke into the Clearlake Park home of Shannon Edmonds and Lori Tyler in the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 2005, and assaulted the family while attempting to steal marijuana Edmonds claims to have a medical recommendation to use.

Hughes didn't shoot the men – Edmonds shot them as they ran from his home, according to case records.

However, Hopkins alleges Hughes is responsible for their deaths under a provocative act law, which holds a person responsible for the death of accomplices in a crime that is likely to result in a lethal response.

In this latest action, Hanlon is asking that Judge William McKinstry – the retired Alameda County judge who will preside over the trial – remove Hopkins.

The basis of Hanlon's request is his allegation that the district attorney is refusing to file charges against Edmonds for trying to force Tyler, his common law wife since 2001, to take a pill overdose as part of a suicide attempt on Aug. 3.

Tyler told police that Edmonds divided up about 300 pills of various types – including Methadone and Seroquel – and forced her to take about half of them. She said he threatened that if she didn't take them “something else was going to happen.” Edmonds also made her write out a suicide note.

“It really reads like an attempted murder,” said Hanlon.

The two survived because Edmonds later drove himself and Tyler to Redbud Community Hospital's Emergency Room.

In an interview with police Tyler said that Edmonds has been increasingly angry and isolated. “He's pushed everybody so far away from us since the home invasion,” she said.

Tyler also told police that Edmonds has threatened her before, and once had used a gun to shoot out a door, which scared her older son so badly he stopped coming to see them.

She further stated to police that she wanted Edmonds prosecuted for the incident.

Edmonds told police the suicide attempt was Tyler's idea, although friends of the couple interviewed by police said Edmonds – not Tyler – had been talking about suicide.

On Aug. 20 Edmonds made a second suicide attempt, again with pills, according to court records.

A police report said Hopkins asked to review the police report prior to an arrest being made.

Hanlon said Hopkins isn't filing a case against Edmonds because he's trying to protect him, since he's a major witness in the Hughes trial.

“He has a lot of discretion but it can't be abused,” said Hanlon.

If he can get Hopkins removed from the case Hanlon said he plans to subpoena him as a witness on why Edmonds wasn't prosecuted.

Hanlon's motion also hints that he may seek a delay in the trial, saying he won't know until the hearing if he will have “sufficient time to gather evidence and investigate this matter so that I can proceed adequately prepared and competent to trial in October of this year.”

Hopkins dismissed Hanlon's motion as just another maneuver to stall the trial.

He said his office is investigating the case and no decision has yet been made, but he contradicted Hanlon's claims that he was dismissing the case.

“He's a little premature in arriving at his conclusion,” said Hopkins.

Hopkins didn't want to reveal his plans for arguing against Hanlon until court, and said he is in the process of filing a brief in response.

He said the Attorney General's Office also will file a brief in opposition to Hanlon's motion to have the District Attorney's Office removed.

“There's no legal basis for the motion at all,” said Hopkins.

The motion will be heard at 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, in Department 3 at the Lake County Courthouse in Lakeport.

Earlier this year Hanlon appealed to both the state First Appellate Court and the state Supreme Court to throw out Judge Arthur Mann's March 2 decision to take the trial out of Lake County. The appellate court upheld Mann's decision, and the Supreme Court would not hear the case.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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