Crime

Timeline: A look back through the years in the murder case of Korey Kauffman

Carson walks into Stanislaus County courtroom before verdict

Frank Carson, on trial related to the death of Korey Kauffman, walks into the courtroom at Stanislaus County Superior Court in Modesto, CA, oni June 28, 2019.
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Frank Carson, on trial related to the death of Korey Kauffman, walks into the courtroom at Stanislaus County Superior Court in Modesto, CA, oni June 28, 2019.

Here’s a look at the Frank Carson case over the years.

January 2012: Carson represents Robert Lee Woody when he is accused of receiving stolen property. The charge eventually is dropped.

March 2012: Korey Kauffman leaves a friend’s house on Lander Avenue in Turlock and goes missing.

Oct. 16, 2013: A body found by hunters in August 2013 in the Stanislaus National Forest is determined to be Korey Kauffman. Detectives term his death “suspicious” and appeal for help from the public to determine what happened.

Dec. 3, 2013: Praveen Singh (aka Prajeer Singh), a Modesto bail agent accused of using his position to solicit gang members to commit violent crimes, is named as a person of interest in the Kauffman case. Singh also has been employed by criminal defense attorney and district attorney candidate Frank Carson.

March 6, 2014: Robert Lee Woody is arrested on charges of murder, conspiracy and a special enhancement for lying in wait. The criminal complaint against Woody also shows the conspiracy charge is supported by four allegations of involvement with three co-conspirators, who are listed only as B, C and D.

March 15, 2014: Woody pleads not guilty on charges of murder and conspiracy and denies a special enhancement for lying in wait.

March 19, 2014: Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova doesn’t reveal why he would recuse himself from Woody’s case, but he does say the rest of the judges in the courthouse likely would recuse themselves if the three other people are charged — a possible indication that the three people have some connection to the courthouse.

March 22, 2014: Carson speaks to a group of licensed private investigators about his run to become the next Stanislaus County district attorney. He emphatically denies any involvement in an alleged criminal conspiracy linked to the death of Kauffman.

July 18, 2014: Woody returns to court for a pretrial hearing. A prosecutor tells the judge the District Attorney’s Office will not seek the death penalty against Woody.

Aug. 13, 2015: Frank Carson, Georgia Geanette DeFilippo, Daljit Atwal, Baljit Athwal, Walter Wesley Wells and Robert Lee Woody are arrested; the charges include murder, conspiracy and false imprisonment. Christina Anne DeFilippo, Scott J. McFarlane and Eduardo Quintanar Jr. are arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime and accessory.

Aug. 18, 2015: Prosecutors formally charge Frank Carson and seven others arrested in connection with the Korey Kauffman murder case.

Oct. 13, 2015: Testimony begins in a preliminary hearing for Frank Carson and five others accused in the Korey Kauffman murder case. The hearing was held in a former federal bankruptcy court building leased specifically to handle the case.

July 29, 2016: Robert Lee Woody says he gave prosecutors false information when he told authorities he saw Modesto attorney Frank Carson and then-California Highway Patrol Officer Walter Wells in Turlock where Korey Kauffman was killed.

Aug. 31, 2016: A judge refuses to sanction the prosecution over a missing polygraph exam, but she warned the prosecutor about a series of failures by the District Attorney’s Office to disclose exculpatory evidence.

Dec. 14, 2016: Wells is released from the Stanislaus County Jail after the prosecution informs the court that they will no longer seek a charge of murder against him. The judge reduces his bail from $10 million to $50,000.

Dec. 22, 2016: Carson and two co-defendants charged with murder released from the Stanislaus County Jail after an angry judge blasted prosecutors and released them pending the completion of their preliminary hearing.

April 10, 2017: The record-setting 18-month preliminary hearing ended in the Kauffman murder case. The judge ordered Carson, Daljit Atwal and Baljit Athwal to stand trial accused of murder.

Oct. 4, 2017: Carson’s wife and her daughter — who have been cleared of wrongdoing — filed a claim seeking damages, saying they were wrongfully prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office. They have since filed a civil lawsuit in federal court.

April 19, 2018: Opening statements were underway in the trial for Carson, Daljit Atwal and Baljit Athwal.

April 23, 2018: Former CHP officer Eduardo Quintanar Jr. — who also has been cleared of wrongdoing — filed a claim seeking damages, saying prosecutors ruined his career with a “witch hunt.” He also has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court.

May 23, 2018: Judge dropped remaining charge against former CHP officer Scott McFarlane. But the District Attorney’s Office filed a new criminal complaint against McFarlane the following day with the identical obstruction charge.

Sept. 3, 2018: Carson, Daljit Atwal and Baljit Athwal, who were released from jail on their own recognizance in December 2016, are ordered to post bail to remain free while awaiting the conclusion of their trial.

June 14, 2019: Prosecution began presenting its closing arguments in the trial for Carson, Daljit Atwal and Baljit Athwal.

June 19, 2019: Defense began presenting its closing arguments in the trial for Carson, Daljit Atwal and Baljit Athwal.

June 26, 2019: Jury began deliberations 14 months after the trial began.

June 28, 2019: Carson, Daljit Atwal and Baljit Athwal all acquitted in the the death of Korey Kauffman.

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Rosalio Ahumada writes news stories about criminal court cases in Stanislaus County for The Modesto Bee, issues related to immigration and immigrant communities and breaking news related to crime and public safety. From time to time, he covers the Modesto City Council meetings. He has worked as a news reporter in the Northern San Joaquin Valley since 2004.
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