Relatives of Chandale Shannon Jr., of Winters, filed into a Yolo County courtroom last week, expecting to hear him admit to murder and voluntary manslaughter charges in connection with the 2016 disappearances and presumed deaths of two local teens.
But that’s not what happened.
“I’ve spoken with Mr. Shannon … and he indicates he is not going to enter a plea,” defense attorney Bob Spangler told Yolo Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg during a brief Friday afternoon hearing.
Several of Shannon’s family members audibly groaned, aware that his rejection of a plea deal now exposes him to a jury trial and, if convicted, a potential sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Under the plea deal — which Shannon and his attorney had crafted to counter prosecutors’ 40-to-life offer — Shannon would have been sentenced to 36 years to life, with a chance for a parole hearing after 25 years due to his youthful-offender status.
Shannon, 24, originally was expected to enter the plea deal a month ago, but that too was scrapped after Spangler declared a doubt as to Shannon’s mental competence. A psychologist who evaluated Shannon found him competent.
“If he goes to trial, and he’s convicted, what’s the worst-case scenario for him?” Rosenberg asked prosecutor David Wilson, who explained that if Shannon is found guilty of murder with special circumstances, “he would never get a parole hearing under any circumstances, absent some monumental change in the law.”
Rosenberg then gave Shannon and Spangler a few minutes to talk the situation over, noting that “he absolutely has the right to go to trial. …But Mr. Shannon needs to understand that the offer he proposed will be off the table.”
Afterward, Spangler said that despite his client’s past willingness to resolve his case, “Mr. Shannon is adamant. He’s not going to fill out the form, he’s not going to enter a plea today.”
The case now returns to court Nov. 23 to set a trial date for Shannon and his remaining codefendant, Jesus Campos of Woodland.
Shannon is charged with two counts of murder with special circumstances in connection with the deaths of Esparto teen Enrique Rios, 16; and Woodland teen Elijah Moore, 17; both allegedly killed in the fall of 2016 to avenge a $300 marijuana robbery.
Investigators say Moore stole the drugs at gunpoint from another man, David Froste of Knights Landing, in a Woodland parking lot, then fled on foot.
Enraged, Froste took Shannon and Campos — both of whom witnessed the robbery — 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 Woodland, 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.
The teens’ bodies, said to be buried together near where Moore died, have never been found.
Both Shannon and Jonathan Froste, who later pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and agreed to testify in court for the prosecution, described the killings during jailhouse interviews with The Davis Enterprise following their June 2018 arrests.
Tried separately from the others, David Froste was convicted of both murders in the fall of 2018 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Jonathan Froste is expected to receive a prison sentence of 15 years to life once the case concludes.
Lola Rios Gutierrez, Enrique’s mother, who along with Moore’s mother Alicia had agreed to Shannon’s proposed plea deal, expressed mixed feelings last Tuesday about the latest developments.
“He made everybody think that we were going to have the deal and not have to go through another trial, but for some reason he’s the one that’s been making it difficult for us,” Gutierrez said. “But I think this is God’s way of telling us that since he’s not accepting the deal, he’s probably going to be convicted and put behind bars for life. At least he won’t be out to harm other people.”