MODESTO — A defendant accused of murder in a series of 2006 Modesto-area store robberies turned down a plea deal offer Tuesday that did not include the death penalty.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Marie Silveira made sure defendant Edward Deandre Mitchell understood that if he rejected the plea deal proposal from prosecutors, the offer would go away and he could face the ultimate penalty if convicted.
"This is a serious case," the judge told the defendant. "It's the most serious case I've been assigned to in my years as a judge."
Mitchell told the judge a few times that he understood the offer he was rejecting. Silveira said the trial will start as scheduled April 15 with Mitchell facing capital murder charges.
Mitchell, 26, is accused of shooting to death Balbir Boyal, who owned BK Liquors at 150 Riverside Drive in east Modesto. The crime occurred June 7, 2006. Mitchell also faces five felony counts of robbery and one felony count of attempted robbery in connection with a string of convenience store robberies in the spring and summer of 2006.
His co-defendant, Laron Tavon Davis, agreed to a plea deal in exchange for his testimony against Mitchell. Davis has testified in court that he and his accomplice made less than $20 in cash from each armed robbery and came away empty-handed after the robbery that resulted in Boyal's death.
In a preliminary hearing in February 2010, Davis said he and Mitchell were using ecstasy and were drunk when they decided to begin their spree in April 2006. Davis testified he was the getaway driver in the robberies.
Davis, 29, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, five counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery. He is serving a prison sentence at a correctional facility in Arizona.
During Tuesday's hearing, Ramon Magaña, Mitchell's attorney, told the judge he is open to any further discussions with prosecutors about a possible plea deal.
Deputy District Attorney W.R. McKenzie told the judge he is willing to take any proposed deals from the defense to be considered by Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager.