By Robert J. Hansen
After the judge was 30 minutes late, Tevares Lopez and Harvest Davidson, and the rest of the Tahoe 5, were in court last Friday for the murder of Dennis “Spike” Wright in 2016.
Though there are six defendants in the case, they are called the Tahoe 5.
Dominic Randolph and Davidson are the only two that have yet to be convicted. Andrew Adams is serving his sentence in a psychiatric facility according to the family of Lopez.
Tristan Batten initially cooperated with the investigation before backing out of a plea deal in 2020 and was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Dion Vaccaro who shot and killed Wright was convicted of murder in 2020 but is still awaiting sentencing.
Not all the information is clear because, on January 27, 2022, The El Dorado County Court Livestream was temporarily suspended in criminal proceedings. El Dorado County’s civil, criminal, and traffic case index is also unavailable and has been for at least two weeks.
Outside the courthouse last Friday, there was a small protest according to Bridget Doherty, Lopez’s aunt, who said that the possibility of bail is being considered for Davidson and told the Warden he was not providing adequate counsel.
“His lack of engagement with technology hampered the defense he could raise,” Doherty said.
“After speaking to Tevares on the phone, he told me they heard the shouts,” Doherty said. “I’d left the courtroom to stand with Theresa (Lopez’s mother).”
Doherty also said she was shocked when the jury found Lopez guilty.
Lopez was convicted of Wright’s murder on November 30, 2021, and at court on Friday requested a new counsel which the judge said he would consider.
“We expected maybe some but not every single count. And the other part of the shock was that his attorney, James Warden, asked each one to get up and tell the court they were guilty,” Doherty said.
Doherty said the mother of Lopez’s children and his mother are in complete disbelief at the guilty verdict Lopez received in November.
El Dorado County filed at the Third District Court of Appeal in 2019 with evidence that it says shows Lopez and Davidson planned to rob Wright.
Prosecutors maintain that Lopez and Davidson helped create conditions that led to Wright’s death.
El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Casey Mandrell told the Sacramento Bee that Perry’s claim about missing evidence is “unfounded.”
In an email to The Bee, Mandrell said all of the defendants have been provided the discovery that they are entitled to.
Lopez spoke from jail about misconduct by prosecutors and deputies inside the jail beginning with his arrest.
He says he was arrested for manufacturing condensed cannabis and having a firearm but that no charges for murder were filed until after three months in jail when Lopez posted bail.
“I’m thinking, cool, they’re going to come to get me in the morning and as soon as my bail cleared, they charged me with the murder,” Lopez said.
Lopez says his and his co-defendants’ civil rights from due process to fair and equal treatment under the law have been violated.
“They’re supposed to allow us to discuss our case together but the DA requested that they keep us all separate,” Lopez said.
Lopez said the court has done all the defendants “super dirty” and that he spent the first two years in solitary confinement.
“I spent the first two years in the hole. They are supposed to put a pre-trial detainee in the hole like that but they keep me there for two years and they only let you out for 45 minutes a day,” Lopez said.
According to Doherty, one of the attorneys never made it to court and the judge showed little desire to run her courtroom.
“It seemed like Mandrell continued to direct her decisions,” Doherty said. “I hope they (defense attorneys) take all of them down in an investigation. Kingsberry shouldn’t get her retirement and the others should be disbarred for the way they practice law.”
The Tahoe 5 have court again next month where possible bail for Davidson may be decided and Lopez will potentially be told if he can pursue new counsel.
Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist.