Winters man found guilty of double-murder

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Enrique Rios, left, and Elijah Moore, as they were pictured in missing-person fliers following their 2016 disappearances. (Courtesy photos)

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The final two defendants in a Yolo County double-murder case got their day of reckoning on Wednesday, May 11 as a jury declared them guilty for their roles in the presumed deaths of two missing teenagers.

Winters resident Chandale Shannon Jr., 25; and Woodland resident Jesus Campos, 22, now face lengthy prison sentences for their murder and kidnapping convictions, which come nearly four years after their 2018 arrests.

Shannon was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for Yolo County teens Enrique Rios (of Esparto) and Elijah Moore (of Woodland), of kidnapping, and special circumstances of multiple murders and kidnapping during the course of a murder. Campos was convicted of second-degree murder of Rios, first degree murder of Moore, kidnapping, and special circumstances of multiple murders and kidnapping during the course of a murder.

“I’m just beyond relieved. A huge weight has been lifted,” said Lola Rios Gutierrez, whose son Enrique Rios, 16, was the first to go missing in October 2016. “It’s not going to bring my baby back, but they’re not going to be able to do this to anybody else.”

Enrique’s friend and classmate Elijah Moore vanished nearly three weeks later, a day after celebrating his 17th birthday. Prosecutors said both killings stemmed from a $300 marijuana robbery that Elijah carried out against the defendants’ friend David Froste.

Alicia Moore, Elijah’s mother, could not be reached for comment. But in a Facebook post, she expressed her gratitude to the jury as well as those who have stood by her family over the years.

“I’m so grateful to everyone who has been there for us in person and virtually,” Moore wrote. “You all have been the biggest supporters I could have asked for, and I didn’t even ask — you all were just there for us!”

Both Campos and Shannon are due back in court June 8 for further proceedings, including the scheduling of a sentencing date. Shannon faces life in prison without the possibility of parole, while Campos, a minor at the time of the killings, also faces a life term but would be eligible for a parole hearing after 25 years.

David Froste, who authorities say orchestrated the murders to avenge the robbery, is serving life without parole after being tried separately in 2018 and convicted on all counts.

His brother Jonathan Froste, of  brokered a plea deal in which he agreed to testify against the others in exchange for a second-degree murder conviction. His testimony characterized Shannon and Campos as willing participants in the victims’ deaths.

“A lot of this is owed to the hard work of the individuals investigating this case,” tracking down witnesses, conducting interviews and combing through social media records among other efforts, prosecutor David Wilson said a day after the verdicts. “They left no stone unturned, and those efforts didn’t stop,” even after the suspects’ arrests.

Left unfinished, at least for now, is the families’ ability to lay the teens to rest, with authorities unable to find their bodies despite repeated searches of the rural areas where they’re said to be buried.

“That’s really the one stone we’d hoped we’d be able to have a more positive result on,” Wilson added. “I’m hoping the verdicts provide at least some closure for them.”

Court happenings
Wednesday’s verdicts came during the fifth day of deliberations in the trial, which began in early March and concluded with a full day of closing arguments last week.

At issue: Whether Campos and Shannon shared the intent to kill with David Froste, the ringleader of their “squad” who prosecutors say was “out for blood” after Moore robbed him of three ounces of marijuana in a Woodland parking lot.

“Could there be something more trivial, more inconsequential, than three ounces of marijuana?” Wilson said in his closing remarks to the jury. Still, “these two defendants, knowing what David Froste wanted to do, helped him. They encouraged him.”

And although both victims were the defendants’ friends, “they cared more about what David Froste wanted.”

Authorities say the killings went down like this: After the robbery, which Campos and Shannon witnessed, an enraged David Froste called his brother Jonathan and relayed plans to “shoot up” Elijah’s house.

But when they couldn’t find him, they turned to the next-best thing: his good friend Enrique Rios. Facebook Messenger records displayed during the trial showed Shannon reached out to Rios that night and asked him “to party.”

With no knowledge of the robbery, Enrique gave Shannon his Esparto address, then rode with Shannon, Campos and David Froste to Second Beach, a rural gathering spot in Knights Landing. Instead of a party, however, Enrique found himself on the other end of Froste’s handgun.

When he refused to give up Elijah’s whereabouts, David Froste fatally shot him, authorities say. Three weeks later, the defendants — this time including Jonathan Froste — abducted Elijah from a Woodland shopping center and drove him to another rural Knights Landing site.

There, Shannon and Jonathan Froste held Elijah at gunpoint while David Froste and Campos went for supplies including tools, trash bags and gasoline, according to trial testimony. When they returned, the foursome took turns bludgeoning the teen with a tree branch, followed by a final gunshot from David Froste.

“No hesitation. No question,” Wilson said of Camps and Shannons’ roles. “They’re part of the conspiracy. They’re part of the squad.”

Doubt from defense
Defense attorneys, meanwhile, say there’s no question David Froste killed the two boys, and that their clients were there.

“The issue is, did Mr. Campos share (Froste’s) intent? Did he put himself there voluntarily, willingly, or was he a 16-year-old kid manipulated by an older, more experienced psychopath?” said David Nelson, Campos’ lawyer. “Mere presence is not enough to prove he’s guilty. Who had him there? David Froste.”

Shannon defense attorney Bob Spangler, meanwhile, attempted to cast doubt on Jonathan Froste’s testimony, which he said exaggerated Shannon’s role in the killings in order to secure his plea deal.

“It was like watching a kid who had memorized a poem in a school recital. Deadpan. There was no emotion,” Spangler said, adding that his client also feared David Froste. “By spinning his story this way, he makes Chandale part of this whole thing.”

Both Nelson and Spangler were unavailable for comment about the verdicts.

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