Jury selection began Tuesday for the two remaining defendants accused of killing two local teens who went missing back in 2016.
Chandale Shannon Jr., of Winters, and Jesus Campos, of Woodland, have pleaded not guilty to murder, kidnapping and weapon-related charges in connection with the presumed deaths of Esparto teen Enrique Rios, 16, and 17-year-old Woodland teen Elijah Moore, whose bodies have never been found.
Testimony is expected to begin later this month following the selection of 12 jurors and five alternates, who will hear the four-week trial on a week-on, week-off format.
The trial is the second to be held in the case. The first, back in the fall of 2018, ended with David Ashley Froste’s conviction and sentencing to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Prosecutors say Froste orchestrated and carried out the teens’ killings after Moore robbed him of $300 worth of marijuana in a Woodland parking lot in October 2016, and that Campos, 22, and Shannon, 25, took part in both killings.
Froste’s brother Jonathan, who admitted to playing a role in Moore’s abduction and death, admitted to second-degree murder in exchange for his testimony for the prosecution.
The case experienced repeated delays since David Froste’s conviction, and not only due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Campos, a juvenile at the time of the alleged murders, underwent court proceedings that resulted in his case being elevated to adult court.
Shannon, who according to his attorney and family is on the autism spectrum, twice had his court proceedings suspended when his lawyer cast doubt on his mental capacity to stand trial. Both times, court-appointed psychologists deemed him competent for the proceedings.
Back in November, Shannon was on the verge of accepting a plea deal but ultimately rejected the offer, which would have resulted in a sentence of 36 years to life in exchange for his plea to murder and voluntary manslaughter counts.
Campos received a similar offer but also said no, his counter-offers for lesser amounts of time turned down by prosecutors.
History of case
Many of this week’s prospective jurors are expected to have some knowledge of the high-profile homicide case, which has garnered numerous headlines since the teens’ disappearances nearly six years ago.
It was Rios who vanished first, targeted by David Froste following the parking-lot robbery and a failed search for Moore after he fled, according to prior courtroom testimony and the defendants’ own statements.
Enraged, Froste took Shannon and Campos — both of whom witnessed the robbery — to Esparto to pick up Rios, Moore’s close friend, promising to take him “to party.” But when Rios refused to lure Moore to him, Froste fatally shot the teen.
Several weeks later, the defendants, this time including Froste’s younger brother Jonathan, abducted Moore in a Woodland shopping center, forced him into the trunk of a car and drove him to a rural area near Knights Landing, where the foursome took turns bludgeoning him with a tree branch before David Froste shot him.
Jonathan Froste is expected to receive a prison sentence of 15 years to life once the case concludes.
David Froste, now 31, is serving his life sentence at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad.