With Date Changed Nearly 2 Dozen Times, Judges Orders 3-Year Case to Trial

By Savannah Dewberry and Leah Timmerman

SACRAMENTO, CA – Deputy District Attorney Sydne Jones made a passionate plea here in Sacramento County Superior Court Thursday—not in an opening or closing trial argument, but just to get her case to trial after nearly three years.

Frederick Shiele is charged with 18 felony counts of lewd acts with a minor under 14, and one felony count in violation of soliciting a minor for lewd purposes. Schiele was arrested and detained on these counts in 2018, but the case has not gone to trial for nearly three years.

The case was heard in Judge Geoffrey Goodman’s Dept. 61 to discuss the defense motion for another continuance, which would further delay trial.

Ray Thomas, the defendant’s attorney, said that he needed more time on the case to ensure his client was ready for trial. In his defense, he’s only had the case since the end of 2020 and he said he had to review and re-investigate the matter.

But DDA Jones insisted he had been given enough time, noting, “There are several attorneys that predate both of us but the first jury trial was set for June 27, 2019, so we’re nearly two years from the date the original jury trial was set for.”

The DDA added, “The date has been changed 19 times and that does not include the reset because of COVID (and) those are defense requests to continue the case. Specifically, there have been nine times since I inherited the case in April, and since the court reopened I have called ready on the case every single time it has been on the calendar.”

Jones said the last time there was a motion for continuance, she had no say in the date that was chosen, rather it was defense counsel Thomas that chose the new trial date and then asked again for it to be pushed back.

“He stated May 10 he would be ready,” said Jones. “And here we are again with another request to continue.”

Thomas defended his actions, citing his limited time with the case, arguing, “I understand there is a concern for the alleged victim in this case, but there is issue with due process and my client’s right to competent representation.”

“When I got this case the last note on it was from April 6, 2019, and I got this case in late 2020. There was a year period that I had to fill in the gaps. I’ve done all the investigation, I did further investigation, we have made significant progress on this case, but I need the time to treat this appropriately like a life case,” he added.

Although Schiele’s case is not up for life sentencing, both attorneys agreed that, due to Schiele’s advanced age and the estimated sentencing of 43 years in prison, this is essentially a life case. Schiele has a criminal background extending to 1984, with several charges for possession of methamphetamine and possession of destructive devices.

Jones reminded the court that another life was also affected by the case, her client’s life, maintaining “I do agree with Mr. Thomas that for all intents and purposes that this is a life case. My victim, who is now an adult, has essentially been victimized by the defendant since she was age eleven.

“She has tried very hard to get her life together, to be able to graduate from high school, to be able to move on from the things that Mr. Schiele has done to her, when she has no parents whatsoever,” said Jones. “Mr. Schiele was the only father figure that she had; as the court can see in the charged counts, that’s how he treated her.”

The urgency Jones had to get the case to trial was also because the alleged victim had enlisted in the Navy. Jones mentioned that she could be shipped out at any point, leaving the case without a victim to testify.

“I can’t understand the basis for why you waited until this point to do some of the things that you describe here. Furthermore you indicated you will have these times by mid-May therefore it seems totally reasonable to be prepared by May 24. Do note that this is the last continuance, this case needs to go to trial for a whole variety of reasons as well as the time,” Judge Goodman said from the bench.

Thomas asked to meet with the judge in chamber to clarify some points to the court and this was granted. After a few minutes they returned, and Judge Goodman stated he “didn’t really change his opinion” then granted a two-week continuance that will go over to May 24 and a court order that this will be the last continuance for the case.

A trial readiness conference date was scheduled for May 20.

Savannah Dewberry is a student at the University of San Francisco. She is pursuing a Media Studies major with a minor in Journalism. Savannah Dewberry is an East Bay native and currently lives in San Francisco.

Leah Timmerman is a 4th year Political Science and American Studies major at UC Davis. She is originally from Los Angeles, California.

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