3.20.2010

TS - Two suspects in February murder headed to trial

Two suspects in February murder headed to trial
Jeffrey Allan Burgess and Tracey Joleen Williams, suspects in the February shooting death of Ezra Sanders, 30, of McKinleyville, are likely headed to trial later this fall.

On Monday, Burgess, 39, and Williams, 35, both of Eureka, reaffirmed their not guilty pleas before Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson, and were assured the continued service of public defenders after confirming their incomes had not changed.

Both have been charged with Sanders' murder, while Burgess is also charged with a special allegation of firing the bullet that killed Sanders.

Burgess' trial is set to begin Nov. 30 at 8:30 a.m., with a trial readiness conference scheduled for Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. Codefendant Williams' trial is set for Oct. 19 at 8:30 a.m. with a trial conference scheduled for Oct. 5.

Two other defendants in the shooting -- Ruben Anthony Peredia, 32, of Eureka and Lukus Larry Mace, 31, of Orleans -- have entered into plea deals.

Peredia was sentenced to 13 years, four months, in state prison last week. Mace pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in early August and agreed to testify against his co-defendants. He faces a maximum of six years in prison.

On Feb. 24, just after 1 a.m., Sanders was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the chest in front of his trailer in the Widow White Creek RV Park off of McKinleyville's Murray Road.

Since accepting the plea deal's provision to testify against his co-defendants, Mace has told the court he heard a single gunshot at the scene that he believed to have been fired by Burgess.

Both Burgess and Williams face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of murder.