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DA considering death penalty in Yuba City murder case
A Yuba City man charged with killing a 94-year-old neighbor earlier this month could face the death penalty, the Sutter County District Attorney said Tuesday.
Michael Patrick Alexander is charged with the first-degree murder of Leola “Dodie” Shreves, who was found dead Jan. 23 in her home in the 500 block of Park Avenue in Yuba City.
“Death is a possibility, Mr. Alexander,” Judge Brian R. Aronson said.
Alexander, 20, is charged with first-degree murder, torture, aggravated mayhem, first-degree burglary and attempted first-degree robbery.
He appeared briefly on Tuesday in Sutter County Superior Court, but did not enter a plea.
Defense attorney Mark Van den Heuvel was appointed to represent Alexander and asked the judge time to review the case.
Yuba City police said Alexander broke into Shreves home some time on the night of Jan. 18, setting off a violent struggle that led to the woman’s death.
Alexander, who lived directly next door to Shreves, was arrested early Saturday at his home.
In the days after Sherves’ body was found, Alexander stood outside and watched detectives investigate the scene. Alexander also spoke to reporters several times and told the Appeal-Democrat he felt unsafe “knowing that someone’s out there that could like killing people.”
Authorities remained tight-lipped on specifics, including whether any weapons were involved and what, if anything, was taken from Shreves’ home.
In coming weeks, District Attorney Carl Adams will determine whether to seek the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Adams did not comment on Alexander’s charges, but said, in general, death penalty cases require a series of factors to come together during a first-degree murder.
“It must fit the legal criteria of being sufficiently vicious and the person’s background must be sufficiently criminal in order to justify imposing the death penalty,” Adams explained.
Prosecutors anticipate questions regarding Alexander’s competency to stand trial.
“Mental competency defense are so common, they’re a part of almost every potential death penalty case,” said Cameron King, deputy Sutter County district attorney.
Appearing in shackles and orange jail clothes, Alexander looked directly at the judge throughout the arraignment, answering, “Yes, Your Honor,” when Aronson asked a question.
Members of both the victim’s and defendant’s families were in court and both families declined comment afterwards.
Alexander is due back in court Feb. 13 for further arraignment.