The case of Lyle Nooner has taken some interesting twists and turns, but after pleading to an added fifth count on Wednesday, he will be released on December 27, two years after first being arrested in West Sacramento on drug and weapons charges.
Mr. Nooner, represented by Michelle Spaulding, plead no contest before Judge David Rosenberg to a violation of Health and Safety Code section 11370.1(a), possession of a controlled substance while armed. With a prior strike, he received a two-year sentence that was doubled to four. But because he has almost served for two years, he will not have to be transported to prison for additional time.
Michelle Spaulding told the Vanguard following the hearing, “I’m happy with what we did. It was the best compromise that we could do in the situation we had.”
Overall, she said, “It was a tough case, there were a lot of issues. I would have loved to have tried it but this was the second best outcome.”
Mr. Nooner was originally arraigned on December 30, 2016, on a five-count felony complaint including possession for sale of meth and heroin, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Two of the counts were dismissed based on lack of Yolo County jurisdiction.
Mr. Nooner, 58, has a lengthy criminal history, having spent the better part of 24 years in prison after a 1985 conviction on concealed weapons charges. However, since 2009 he had by most accounts cleaned himself up and was working with others in prison through the Inside Circle Foundation, which he started working with in Folsom. According to a number of participants, Inner Circle helped turn their lives around and enabled many to get out of their cycle of crime.
The case attracted the attention of the Vanguard with extensive complaints by Ms. Spaulding that Mr. Nooner received physical abuse at the hands of jail staff, specifically corrections officers. She filed a complaint with the county about his treatment.
On Wednesday, Ms. Spaulding told the Vanguard that Mr. Nooner has been interviewed by internal affairs. She said that Nooner believes “they weren’t terribly interested in investigating it.”
“The physical conduct has stopped, he has not been harmed physically since the filing of the complaint,” she stated. “They are however continuing to harass him in (other) ways.”
She said that jail staff for some reason believes he is able to walk. “According to the medical records his knee is clearly injured,” she said. “But they are doing things like taking his walker away and telling him he has to walk.”
Ms. Spaulding alleges they are now videotaping everything he does, including his conversations with counsel, which are by law confidential and, thus, staff is not permitted to record.
Upon his arrest in December of 2016, Mr. Nooner was injured. He hurt his back, neck, knee, and his hand during the arrest. “His hand was damaged to the point where it can’t be repaired. He had physical therapy for months to get to the point where he could walk with a walker,” Michelle Spaulding claimed. The injuries and incidents described here were relayed to the Vanguard through Ms. Spaulding, originating from her client Lyle Nooner.
According to his attorney, he had received roughly five significant beatings during the 16 months or so he has been at the Yolo County Jail, most of them because he talked back to a guard.
Ms. Spaulding explained that this incident occurred at one point and, according to Mr. Nooner, “since that time, the treatment from the guards has been has been no good whatsoever.”
For the most part, Mr. Nooner took the mistreatment in silence even though some of the beat downs were “pretty substantial” according to his attorney.
He had generally taken it, but “he said this time it was too bad, it hurt him too much and he needed it to stop.”
At approximately four in the morning on Saturday, June 9, there was a cell extraction. The reason for their entry was a shroud covering a broken light fixture. There are varying accounts as to the nature of this shroud. Sheriff Ed Prieto told the Vanguard that it blocked the guards’ view of the cell, but Mr. Nooner, through his attorney, told the Vanguard that he covered the light with a very thin towel to shield it slightly in order to sleep.
There was a bare bulb on the ceiling where there was a huge crack or hole in the light cover, which stays on 24/7. The guards had known about this shroud for months but did nothing until this night.
Ms. Spaulding explained, “He wanted me to also be clear that he covered the light with a very thin towel. It didn’t impede the light in anyway, he can still read by the light. And it had been up for quite some time and they left it up after the extraction. It’s still there.”
Mr. Nooner, through his attorney, claims that there were 10 officers involved in what happened next. He has the names of six of them. There may be a seventh name as well.
They came in talking about the shroud, and rolled him up. They sat on him, kneeling on him, until finally, he explained to his attorney, his knee blew out.
In July, Ms. Spaulding filed a motion with the court to show cause after being denied access to her client multiple times over the weekend. At the time, Deputy County Counsel stepped in to handle the matter.
On Wednesday, following the plea by Mr. Nooner, Deputy DA Matt De Moura dismissed counts one through four, for which Mr. Nooner would have faced up to 13 years in prison. He will be sentenced on December 27 – at which point he will be released on probation.
—David M. Greenwald reporting