The sentencing of a Yuba City man found guilty of brutally murdering a 94-year-old Yuba City woman in 2013 was continued two weeks due to the defense attorney being quarantined.
Armando Arias Cuadras, 31, was scheduled to be sentenced Friday after a jury earlier found him guilty of first-degree murder, torture, aggravated mayhem, and first degree burglary. He was arrested in April 2019 after his DNA matched blood found in the home of the victim, Leola Shreves
Shreves’ neighbor, Michael Alexander, was originally arrested and charged with the murder. He spent more than three years in custody before being released due to lack of evidence. Alexander sued Sutter County and settled for $50,000.
Cuadras appeared in Sutter County Superior Court via video conference from Sutter County Jail and his attorney Mani Sidhu also appeared via video conference. Sidhu requested the sentencing be continued to give him time to file a motion relating to a juror in the trial testing positive of COVID-19 two days after the verdict was delivered. He said that positive case could have infringed on his client’s right to a fair trial.
“I believe that person wouldn’t be focused enough to sit and deliberate,” Sidhu said.
He requested a continuance to February 26 to give him time to file his motion. In addition, Sidhu said he, himself, had been exposed to someone who had tested positive for COVID-19 last weekend and was currently quarantining and awaiting the results of his COVID-19 test.
Sutter County Assistant District Attorney Jana McClung opposed continuing the hearing and asked the court to continue it a week if a continuance was granted. She said the court, herself and Sidhu were notified in November about the positive test of the juror and that Sidhu had plenty of time to file his motion.
“The family in this matter have waited years and years,” McClung said. “... This is merely a delaying tactic.”
Judge David Ashby agreed to continue the sentencing two weeks so that Sidhu could appear in person for the hearing. He said the sentencing would have taken place on Friday if Sidhu had been present. Sidhu has until Jan. 15 to file any motions for the court to consider.
The sentencing is now scheduled to take place on Jan. 22 at 9 a.m. in Sutter County Superior Court.