Wednesday, 12 June 2024

Wells sentenced to four years in prison for Shull murder



LAKE COUNTY – A 19-year-old Clearlake man has been sentenced to four years in prison for the death of a man he stabbed in a confrontation last year.

Bruce Emerson Wells was convicted of involuntary manslaughter on Sept. 11 for the March 24, 2006 stabbing of Samuel Shull, who died the following day, as Lake County News previously reported.

A party with several teenagers who were drinking alcohol had taken place at Shull's home that night, according to defense and prosecution reports.

Both Wells and Shull were intoxicated, and a confrontation ensued after Shull asked the teen to leave his home. Wells stabbed Shull in the chest with a knife with a 3 and a half inch blade, and was subsequently struck over the head with a walking stick by Shull's stepson, Jacob Rines.

Roy Miller, Wells' defense attorney, told Lake County News said Wells was placed in Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital's intensive care unit for four days due to the head injury, which he previously said had caused Wells memory loss.

On Monday, Wells was sentenced to four years in state prison, said Deputy District Attorney David McKillop, who prosecuted the case.

The District Attorney's Office had charged Wells with murder, but after two hours of deliberations the jury instead found for the lesser involuntary manslaughter charge, as Lake County News reported last month.

“The verdict was less than we hoped for,” McKillop said. “The actual sentence was what we expected.”

The maximum sentence Wells could have received was five years, McKillop added.

McKillop said Wells was tried as an adult based on a fitness hearing. The stabbing took place about three months before Wells' 18th birthday.

Miller said Wells was arrested on March 27, 2006, upon being discharged from the hospital, and has remained in the Lake County Jail ever since.

Given the time he's already served, Miller said he believes Wells will only serve another 10 months at San Quentin State Prison.

He said the least sentence Wells could have received was probation, which is a hard sentence to get in Lake County, according to other cases he's looked at.

“I was hoping he would be granted probation but I wasn't counting on it,” he said.

Miller added that Wells is grateful for the involuntary manslaughter verdict, “given all that happened in this case.”

Once Wells is released from prison, he'll have a neurological evaluation to see if he has any lasting damage from the brain injury, and then Miller has urged him to get his GED. “He's going to have to start his life over.”

Miller said Wells has family and friends supporting him, and that he also will be helping Wells transition to the outside world.

“Making the transition depends a lot on a kid's background,” said Miller. “This kid's background was difficult even by Clearlake's standards.”

Miller explained that Wells grew up in troubled home, with his parents battling drug and alcohol issues, his mother spending time in prison, and he and his brother being raised by a neighbor because their home lacked running water and electricity. “It was rough.”

Child Protective Services didn't get involved in the boys' case, said Miller.

“He fell through the cracks,” said Miller, formerly a deputy district attorney in Lake County. “I've seen a lot of kids fall through the cracks up there.”

Lake County News was unable to contact Shull's family for comment for this article.

Shull was a Vietnam veteran, who served in both the Army and Air Force.

His obituary stated that he “loved to smile and had a positive outlook on life,” was a 49ers fan, enjoyed long walks with wife Linda and their dog, Candy, and was also a gardener and fisherman.

Shull left behind a large family that included his wife, brothers and a sister, children and stepchildren, nieces, nephews and friends.

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


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