Friday, 14 June 2024

Not guilty pleas entered by men charged in Clearlake murder

CLEARLAKE – Two men accused of beating and stabbing to death a Clearlake man earlier this week entered not guilty pleas in a Friday afternoon hearing.

Shannon Lee Edmonds, 35, and Melvin Dale Norton, 38, appeared before Judge Stephen Hedstrom in Lake County Superior Court's Southlake Division Friday.

The men are charged in connection with the murder of 25-year-old Shelby Uehling, who was found dead alongside of the road in the area of Old Highway 53 and Clement Drive after an alleged early Tuesday morning confrontation, as Lake County News has reported.

Uehling had been severely beaten and was stabbed multiple times, sustaining a wound to the lower back that punctured his lung and a 3-inch laceration to his carotid artery, according to a Wednesday autopsy.

Edmonds faces a single charge of homicide, with a special allegation of using a knife, that could result in a sentence of 26 years to life in prison if he's convicted, according to the prosecution.

Norton faces 52 years to life if convicted of homicide, a special allegation of using a billy club-type weapon, assault with a deadly weapon likely to cause great bodily injury, a special allegation of inflicting great bodily injury, a count of being an accessory and a strike enhancement, Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff told Lake County News.

Defense attorneys Stephen Carter and Doug Rhoades – representing Norton and Edmonds, respectively – entered not guilty pleas and denied the special allegations on behalf of their clients.

Sitting in the front row of the courtroom was a young woman, accompanied by her mother, said to be the woman who was at the heart of the disagreement that led to the fight between the men.

Police Chief Allan McClain told Lake County News in a previous interview that the investigation produced information that Uehling had been dating a young woman that Edmonds also had been dating, and that allegedly led to the fatal fight.

When Edmonds, Norton and several other inmates were brought into the courtroom Edmonds turned his head to look over at the young woman as he was being directed to sit in the jury box.

After Carter entered the not guilty plea for Norton, the young woman and her mother loudly scoffed.

Rhoades and Carter didn't waive the time limits for their clients, which means that the preliminary hearing for the men must be held within the next few weeks.

Carter noted that no discovery information – including police reports and other investigative materials – have yet been made available to the defense in the case.

Hinchcliff, who has handled the case so far, told the court that the discovery documents should be available on Monday.

Judge Hedstrom set the preliminary hearing for Norton and Edmonds for 8:15 a.m. Oct. 6, in a courtroom that will be determined in a hearing scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Oct. 2 in Department 3 in Lakeport. Both Norton and Edmonds must be present for that Oct. 2 assignment hearing, Hedstrom said.

Norton and Edmonds are being held on $1 million bail each, after Hedstrom granted a motion filed by Hinchcliff Tuesday to have the normal $500,000 bail schedule doubled in this case.

Carter said after court that a bail hearing may be held to address that issue, since the original motion hearing included no representation for the men.

“That's an open question right now,” said Carter.

Rhoades previously served as Edmonds Fifth Amendment counsel in the prosecution of Renato Hughes, who was charged with two counts of murder and several other charges for an alleged December 2005 break-in at Edmonds' Clearlake Park home.

Hughes was charged with the deaths of friends Christian Foster and Rashad Williams, who were shot by Edmonds as they ran from the home. Edmonds was not charged, but Hughes faced prosecution under the provocative act. That law allows a person to be prosecuted for any deaths that result from a violent crime in which they took part, and which could be expected to have a lethal result.

Family searches for answers

Members of Uehling's family, including his stepfather, John Holland, and uncle, Tim Tillman, were at the brief afternoon hearing, which took just under 10 minutes.

Uehling's family followed the young woman said to be Uehling's girlfriend out of court in an effort to speak with her and find out more about the situation.

Holland, from Ennis, Montana, said Uehling had moved to Clearlake from Montana in March.

Uehling's family wasn't aware of his involvement with the young woman and is struggling to understand what happened.

“We're trying to put this together and it makes no sense to us,” Holland told Lake County News.

The family suspects drugs may have been involved. Uehling hadn't previously had a drug problem, but appeared to be involved with drugs lately, Holland said.

Holland had been in California for a hunting trip, and was in Cottonwood – south of Redding – when he got word that Uehling had been murdered.

At the time of the Friday afternoon hearing, Holland said he and his family had yet to speak with police about the case, and were headed to the Clearlake Police Department to try to get some information.

The family has had to deal with a tremendous amount of tragedy since the summer of 2008.

Uehling's brother, Staff Sgt. Cody Herring of the 820th Red Horse Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, died as the result of injuries he suffered in an off-duty motorcycle crash on Aug. 16, 2008, according to a story the base put out on the crash.

Three days later, Uehling's mother committed suicide, Holland said.

Holland said Uehling's natural father, Steve, died of cancer about 16 years ago.

“I've been with him since he was 3 years old,” Holland said of his stepson.

Holland said the family moved from San Diego to Montana in 1997. Uehling graduated from Ennis High School, located near Bozeman.

The young man's death brought back all of the tragedy that the family has suffered since last summer, Holland said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at .

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