Wednesday, 24 April 2024

Suspect pleads not guilty in Womachka case

LAKEPORT – On Friday a Nice man entered a not guilty plea in a June 2007 murder case.


Morgan Matthew Jack, 31, was in court Friday, where he pleaded not guilty to allegations that he killed Paul Womachka last summer, according to his attorney, Stephen Carter.


Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who is handling the prosecution but was unable to attend the Friday court appearance, said Jack is facing a murder charge plus a special allegation of using a knife in the crime's commission.


Hinchcliff said Gary Luck, the retired district attorney who now works with the District Attorney's Office on a part-time basis, stood in for him at Jack's hearing.


Carter, who currently is representing James Roberts in his murder case, said Jack is due to return to court for a preliminary hearing on April 8.


It's estimated that the preliminary hearing will last about three days, said Carter.


“That's a fairly long preliminary hearing,” he said, adding that such hearings usually only take two hours.


As to the specifics of what the District Attorney's Office is alleging, Carter said he didn't want to discuss those at this point because he feels there already has been a lot of pretrial publicity, and more could hurt Jack's chance of getting a fair trial here.


“I hope he can get a fair trial in this county,” said Carter. “We haven't examined that very closely yet.”


Carter said he hasn't ever had to take a trial out of Lake County, and is a firm believer in the fairness of local juries.


The process of determining if Jack can get a fair trial locally will begin following the preliminary hearing.


Last month the Lake County Sheriff's Office received an arrest warrant for Jack in the Womachka case. He was booked into the Lake County Jail on Feb. 28 after being returned to the county from San Quentin State Prison, where he was held on a parole violation.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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