Saturday, 18 May 2024

Men accused of break-in and assault arraigned Monday

From left, Charles Burk and Malcolm Brown on their way into court on Monday afternoon. Photos by Harold LaBonte.

LAKEPORT – Two men who were the subject of a daylong search on Nov. 13 after an alleged break-in and assault were arraigned in Lake County Superior Court on Monday afternoon.

Charles William Burk, 30, a transient, and Malcolm Safa Brown, 40, of Graton, appeared in front of Judge Richard Martin but offered no pleas during the brief hearing.

They were arrested last Thursday after allegedly breaking into the Noble Ranch Road home of Burk's adopted parents and assaulting Burk's adopted father, Donald Merrill Sr., 52, and his son, Donald Merrill Jr., 22.

Burk and Brown are then alleged to have fled in a white pickup, ramming a deputy sheriff's patrol car while trying to escape, and then fleeing on foot into the Hidden Valley Lake community.

There, it's alleged they attempted to force their way into a home on Spruce Grove Road, but the home's owner, Brian Moynihan, 34, physically held the door closed and then chased them from his property.

Later in the day, Burk was found hiding under the exterior deck of a home on Stonegate, while Brown was arrested after being spotted on foot at Foothill Court and Spyglass Road.

When the men were arrested both were alleged to be under the influence of methamphetamine, according to a Nov. 14 sheriff's office report.

William Conwell was appointed to represent Brown, with Thomas Quinn to defend Burk. Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff is prosecuting the case.

Judge Martin read off a lengthy list of charges against the two men, including assault with a firearm, assault with force likely to cause great bodily harm, a charge pertaining to Merrill Sr.'s assault, battery with the intent to cause harm, larceny, vandalism with more than $400 in damage, assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and causing damage to a law enforcement vehicle.

Burk also is facing attempted murder for the assault of his adopted father, possession of a firearm with a previous felony conviction and vandalism with more than $400 in damage for Moynihan's property.

In addition, the District Attorney's Office is charging special allegations for Burk's alleged used of a firearm and for a previous conviction in Oregon, along with possible probation violations in Lake County.

Brown has a record that includes multiple burglaries with violence in Sonoma County and at least one prison term that began in 2002. In addition to another violent felony conviction that was not specified in court, he has a Sonoma County conviction for drunk driving and may also be facing a parole violation.

During the Monday court proceedings, Burk sat with his head lowered and his chin cradled in his hand as he listened to the reading of the charges against him.

Martin issued a criminal protection order instructing both Burk and Brown to refrain from communicating in any way whatsoever with any of the victims or witnesses involved in this case.

The judge also continued the more than half a million dollars in bail for each man and instructed them to return Friday, Nov. 21, when a date for the preliminary hearing will be set.

Hinchcliff told Lake County News Monday afternoon that further charges may be filed against Burk and Brown as information and evidence continue to come in. He said he feels that the most serious charges already have been made.

Regarding possible punishment for the crimes Hinchcliff conceded that should Brown’s record show an alleged previous “second strike” he could spend a very long time behind bars.

Should he be found guilty, Burk could be facing close to 20 years in prison, Hinchcliff said.

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


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