By Samuel Van Blaricom
WOODLAND, CA – Chandale Shannon, Jr., accused of two counts of first degree murder and one count of kidnapping, rejected a plea deal made by his own attorney for 36 years to life on Friday and opted to go to trial here in Yolo County Superior Court.
The maximum potential sentencing is life without the possibility of parole.
In what was a closely followed case in 2018, Shannon and three others were accused of murdering two juveniles, at least one after kidnapping him. Shannon would have been 19 at the time the crime was committed.
All told, Shannon is facing two counts of first degree murder, one count of kidnapping, and a number of enhancements that include multiple murder and murder during a kidnapping, both of which deny the judge the ability to be lenient and significantly increase the potential sentence.
In a previous interview with the Davis Enterprise, Shannon claimed that he “was just a witness that didn’t call the police,” and that he had nothing to do with the actual murders.
According to the procedural history, Shannon has been evaluated for mental competency twice, once beginning in 2018 and once last October. He was deemed incompetent in Sept. 2018 and criminal proceedings were suspended until Aug. 2019.
Both Judge David Rosenberg and Dr. Juliana Rohrer found him able to stand trial again earlier this month after the second doubt to his competence was filed.
At the beginning of the hearing, Judge Rosenberg made it clear what was on the table, stating, “There’s two ways and only two ways this situation will be resolved. One, is the parties reach a plea agreement. Or, if that doesn’t work, the case will go to trial.”
According to Deputy District Attorney David Wilson, the plea agreement that was on the table was a counteroffer made by Attorney Robert Spangler to an original offer of 40 years to life.
“The initial offer was a 40 to life sentence, consisting of one count of first degree murder and one count of second degree murder,” the DDA said.
DDA Wilson continued to explain the back-and-forth of the negotiations, noting that, in the end, “we were open and willing to accept a 36 to life [sentence]. I met with both victims’ mothers on multiple occasions to discuss the pros and the cons, and reluctantly they were willing to agree to that kind of a plea deal.”
Judge Rosenberg asked DDA Wilson to describe exactly what Shannon may be risking if he decided to go forward with trial instead of taking the plea agreement.
“If the jury was to find a combination of two first degree murders, or a combination of a first and a second, the [multiple murders enhancement], independent of the kidnapping special circumstance, makes the defendant eligible for life without the possibility of parole,” explained DDA Wilson.
He also explained that Shannon could receive life without parole if he was convicted of one murder and the kidnapping enhancement was applied, showing the multitude of ways that the court might be forced to give him a much steeper penalty than what the plea agreement gave.
The final aspect that DDA Wilson expanded on was that, under a penal code that applies to youthful offenders, Shannon would be able to have a parole hearing after 25 years so long as his sentence is not life without possibility of parole.
“He would not get a parole hearing under any circumstances, absent some monumental change in the law,” DDA Wilson said while referencing the potential trial outcomes.
Judge Rosenberg then turned to Spangler, asking him to explain his client’s reasoning.
“At various points in the last six or seven weeks, Mr. Shannon has evinced a willingness to enter into that plea agreement. I would not have tendered it if that wasn’t the case. However, having spoken with Mr. Shannon this morning, he is, at least as of this morning, not willing to go forward with it,” he said.
After a brief aside, Attorney Spangler said that Shannon remained “adamant” about his desire to go to trial.