Sutter County Superior Court judge David Ashby ruled there was reasonable and probable cause to believe that a 30-year-old Yuba City man murdered a 94-year-old Yuba City woman in 2013, based on evidence presented at a preliminary hearing.
The defendant, Armando Cuadras, who appeared in court Thursday, is charged with first degree murder, torture, aggravated mayhem, and first degree burglary in the murder of Leola Shreves in 2013.
Cuadras was identified as the suspect and arrested in April after a new DNA analysis of blood from the home of Shreves matched with DNA samples collected from Cuadras by the California Department of Justice.
During the hearing, Sutter County Assistant District Attorney Jana McClung presented evidence to the court and called witnesses to testify for the purpose of connecting Cuadras to the crime. Law enforcement personnel from Yuba City Police Department were called to describe what took place on Jan. 23, 2013, when Shreves’ body was found face down in her home located on Park Avenue in Yuba City. The murder is believed to have taken place on Jan. 18.
According to Appeal-Democrat archives, the then 20-year-old neighbor of Shreves, Michael Alexander, was arrested for the crime based on a now-recanted confession. That case was eventually dropped in 2016 for lack of evidence. Alexander sued Sutter County in 2017 and settled for $50,000.
Blood samples were collected from the crime scene by the Department of Justice and a potential female relative of the DNA contributor was identified and eventually led to Cuadras being identified. A Department of Justice special agent described in court how Cuadras was surveilled for the purpose of collecting his DNA which was accomplished by picking up sunflower seed shells that Cuadras spit out while being followed by agents.
The DNA from the shells matched the DNA of the blood samples from Shreves’s home and he was arrested on April 10.
Prosecutors submitted autopsy results that described Shreves’s cause of death as multiple blunt force injuries and attempted strangulation. The results presented describe how Shreves was beaten and crushed face down into the ground causing multiple lacerations, fractures to her face and multiple fractured ribs. Her back was also broke in two places.
After all the evidence was submitted, the defense asked that burglary and torture be removed from the list of charges against Cuadras citing that sufficient evidence had not been presented to prove either charges.
The prosecution disagreed, with McClung reminding the court of the testimony from the doctor who conducted the autopsy who stated that Shreves was beaten and injured for 30 minutes before dying and in great pain for 15-20 minutes.
Ashby said Cuadras would be held to answer on all the charges previously filed against him. He ruled that there was “reasonable and probable cause” to believe that Cuadras had committed all the offenses and the case would move to the next step toward a trial.
An arraignment on information is scheduled for Jan. 6, 2020, at 9 a.m.