Friday, April 24, 2015

Trial derailed in Davis murder case

From page A1 | March 01, 2013 |

James E. Mings. Enterprise file photo

WOODLAND — A Davis murder case was abruptly dismissed during the jury-selection phase Thursday morning after the prosecuting attorney fell ill, and a Yolo Superior Court judge declined her supervisors’ requests to postpone the trial.

However, officials from the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office say they intend to refile homicide charges against 37-year-old James Elron Mings for his alleged role in the Oct. 1, 2011, death of Davis resident Kevin Gerard Seery.

The unusual turn of events occurred Thursday morning in Judge Paul Richardson’s courtroom, where the case was entering its fourth day of jury selection.

Prosecuting attorney Martha Holzapfel had fallen ill the day before, and was under a doctor’s orders to stay home from work until at least Friday. Arrangements were made for her supervisor, Rob Gorman, to select a jury in her absence.

But after reviewing just over half of the 10-page questionnaires filled out by 125 potential jurors, “I noticed … that Ms. Holzapfel’s opinion about prospective jurors and my opinion about prospective jurors differed greatly,” Gorman told Richardson, according to a transcript of the proceedings. “Ms. Holzapfel needs to be the one to pick this jury because Ms. Holzapfel is the one that’s assigned to this case.”

Gorman, accompanied by Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral, asked for a continuance of the trial until Holzapfel could return.

Mings’ attorney, Deputy Public Defender Dan Hutchinson, objected, saying the DA’s office already had made a “strategic decision” to have Gorman select the jury, and therefore failed to demonstrate good cause to delay the proceedings.

Richardson, meanwhile, noted that the court had already sent the prospective jurors home on Wednesday with the understanding that jury selection would resume — and conclude — the following day. The group responded “with an audible groan,” he said.

“I am very concerned about the court’s credibility with this group of people,” Richardson said, according to the transcript. Gorman pressed the matter, indicating his office would take Richardson’s refusal to continue the trial before the 3rd District Court of Appeal.

Still, Richardson denied Gorman’s continuance request “based on the representations that were made to me yesterday by the people that they could go forward with this jury selection.” He then called a recess, after which Cabral again asked for a trial delay.

He said Gorman’s offer to get the trial started, while “well-intentioned,” would put his office at a disadvantage.

“To insert a new attorney into this case not only on the eve of trial, but in the middle of trial, and require the people to try that case denies the people their right to a fair trial,” Cabral said.

But Richardson refused to reverse course, and Hutchinson called for the case to be dismissed since prosecutors were “unwilling to proceed,” he said.

Richardson granted the dismissal, along with a request by Hutchinson that Mings be released from the Yolo County Jail if the charges are not refiled by Monday. An arraignment hearing was scheduled for that afternoon, and the jury pool released.

Mings is accused of fatally strangling the 42-year-old Seery on Oct. 1, 2011, at the victim’s J Street apartment. Mings allegedly confessed to the killing, describing it as “an act of love” he carried out at the request of Seery, who suffered from multiple ailments. He has no prior criminal history.

— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene



  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Water and power have a troubling interdependency

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    New design submitted for conference center

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Bob Dunning: Fairness is an afterthought for them

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Los Angeles march to commemorate Armenian killings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Hostage deaths a reminder of risk of ‘deadly mistakes’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Beginning tai chi classes start May 5

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    College Night set April 30 at DHS

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Walkers head out three times weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

    Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Tour of co-ops precedes Sacramento conference

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    School board hears report on health services

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A5

    Learn basics of composting in Woodland

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Mamajowali will perform at benefit house concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Explorit: Celebrate International Astronomy Day

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    BeerFest expands to include cider

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Winkler Dinner raises funds for enology, viticulture activities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Raptor Center welcomes visitors at May 2 open house

    By Trina Wood | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Take a peek at region’s past at Tremont Mite Society’s social

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Mapping where human action is causing earthquakes

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A9

    Hummingbird health: Appreciating the little things

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A12 | Gallery



    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

    The fight for gender pay equity

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

    Thanks for supporting the arts

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Bike Swap another success

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Drink is a tasteless insult

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    It’s a depressing beat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5



    Aggie Spring Game environment will up the gridiron fun factor

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Rare DHS track loss still full of highlights

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Lehner talks about the UCD student-athlete experience

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Reeling Blue Devils stop skid against Sheldon

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    DYSA roundup: Lester, Osborne lead Storm over Dixon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Lady Demons’ fundraiser a smash hit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Pro baseball roundup: River Cats lose their fourth straight

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B12





    ‘Ex Machina': The perils of playing God

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Ceramicist works will be featured at The Artery

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery



    Chamber expands Korean sister-city opportunities

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Car Care: Tips for buying your first ATV

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

    Subaru goes rear-wheel drive with sporty BRZ coupe

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B7 | Gallery





    Comics: Friday, April 24, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B5