Jailhouse letter causes delay of trial for Winters man

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A potentially exculpatory letter has derailed next week’s scheduled trial for the two remaining suspects in the disappearances and presumed deaths of two Yolo County teens.

Now, a Yolo Superior Court judge must determine whether the letter’s for real.

Chandale Shannon Jr., 23, of Winters and Jesus Campos, 20, of Woodland stand accused helping to carry out the alleged abductions and murders of Enrique Rios, 16; and Elijah Moore, 17; friends and classmates who both vanished in the fall of 2016.

Another man, David Froste, reportedly ordered the killings after Moore robbed him of $300 worth of marijuana on the night of Oct. 17, 2016, while in Campos’ and Shannon’s presence. Authorities say the trio then picked up Rios from his Esparto home and that Froste fatally shot him when he refused to lure Moore back to the men.

Moore disappeared several weeks later after cashing a work check in downtown Woodland and, like Rios, was said to be slain in rural Knights Landing. Neither teen’s body has ever been found.

David Froste, of Knights Landing, was convicted of both murders in 2018 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. His brother Jonathan Froste, who took part in Moore’s slaying, cut a plea deal in which he admitted to a lesser count of second-degree murder in exchange for his testimony implicating the others.

Like Campos and Shannon, Jonathan Froste, David’s brother, remains in Yolo County Jail custody while the case is still pending.

Campos and Shannon were on track to face a Yolo County jury next week, nearly four years after the alleged murders, when Shannon’s defense attorney Bob Spangler announced “a development” in the case Monday that would take additional time to explore.

“A letter was received by Mr. Shannon,” Spangler said during a court hearing before Judge David Rosenberg, noting that the document was reported to and collected by the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office. “It is now in the process of being evaluated by an expert for authenticity. It is exculpatory in nature as to Mr. Shannon, probably as well as to (Campos).”

Spangler then began to detail the letter’s contents — getting only as far as “assuming that it is indeed from Jonathan Froste, it apologizes for” — when prosecutor Kyle Hasapes requested that specifics about the letter be discussed privately among Rosenberg and the attorneys.

Afterward, Rosenberg announced that he found good cause to delay the trial. The case is due back in court Sept. 28 for a trial-setting conference.

“That should be sufficient time for counsel to sort out the implications if not the authenticity of the letter,” Rosenberg said.

Meanwhile, Campos’ attorney J. Toney also has filed a motion to sever his client’s case from Shannon’s. That matter also will be heard on Sept. 28.

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