3.20.2010

TS - Fourth suspect sought for Sanders killing

Fourth suspect sought for Sanders killing
Investigators are looking for another suspect believed to be involved in the Feb. 24 slaying of Ezra Sanders in McKinleyville.
After announcing it had three suspects in custody over the weekend, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office said today that it is seeking Tracy Joleen Williams, 35, of Eureka, a fourth suspect who is still at large and alleged to have been involved in Sanders' killing. Williams stands about 5 feet 1 inch tall, with blue eyes and blonde hair, weighing about 120 pounds.

An arrest warrant for murder has been issued in Williams' name.

Jeffrey Alan Burgess, 39, of Eureka, is alleged to have killed Sanders, but Lukus Larry Mace, 31, of Orleans, and Ruben Anthony Peredia, 32, of Eureka, join him in facing a Tracey Williams (Courtesy of the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office)
murder charge in the case, which a legal expert said is common.

Sanders, a 30-year-old McKinleyville man, was found shortly after 1 a.m. Feb. 24 lying in front of his trailer in the Widow White Creek RV Park, dead of a single gunshot wound. Witnesses told investigators they heard a vehicle pull up to Sanders' trailer before hearing a gunshot, followed by the sound of a vehicle speeding away.

Appearing in Humboldt Superior Court for a Wednesday arraignment, Burgess pleaded not guilty to murder, with special allegations that the murder was committed during the course of an attempted armed robbery and that he discharged a firearm, killing Sanders. Burgess also pleaded not guilty to a charge of being a felon in possession of a handgun.

At the same hearing, Peredia pleaded not guilty to murder, and a special allegation that the murder was committed in the course of an attempted armed robbery.

Mace's arraignment was continued to today.

Garey said investigators have reason to believe that Burgess, Peredia, Mace and Williams traveled from Eureka to McKinleyville in a stolen truck, armed with a handgun and a knife, with the intent of robbing their acquaintance Sanders for cash and drugs.

After arriving at the trailer park, Peredia, Burgess and Mace allegedly attempted to rob Sanders while Williams remained in the truck as a lookout, according to Garey.

When Sanders resisted the robbery, raising his fists to fight, Burgess allegedly shot him in the chest and the suspects fled the scene without taking anything. Garey said a large sum of money and a small amount of illicit drugs were found in Sanders' possession.

Even though Burgess allegedly fired the fatal shot, Peredia and Mace are also currently facing murder charges and, if taken into custody, Williams is expected to face the same.

University of California Hastings School of Law professor David Levine said it doesn't matter who pulled the trigger, killing Sanders, if all of the suspects knew they were participating in an attempted armed robbery.

”It's called felony murder, and the idea is that if you participate in a felony, and a killing results, than you are as responsible as anyone else for the killing,” Levine said. “Once you start down the road of participating in a felony, you are responsible for whatever results ... . The chain of causation just gets started, and you are responsible for getting it rolling.”

After Wednesday's arraignment, Burgess, Peredia and Mace were returned to Humboldt County jail where they each remain held on $1 million bail. As of the Times-Standard's deadline, Williams remained at large.

Garey said he believes Williams was still in the area as of Tuesday night. Anyone with information regarding Williams is asked to call Garey at 268-3643 or Dunn at 445-7411.

John Driscoll can be reached at 441-0504 or