Three charged in Alta Mesa Park homicide plead not guilty

Jan 31, 2014 4:22 PM

The three suspects charged for the murder of 21-year-old Thomas Sladeck pled not guilty in a Shasta County Superior Courtroom this afternoon.

20-year-old Logan Barnhart, 18-year-old Dillon Sims, and 17-year-old Raquan Matthews were all arrested and charged earlier this week for conspiracy, attempted robbery, and murder. The judge presiding over the case is Judge Daniel Flynn and Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett is the lead prosecutor. All three defendants have hired their own public defenders.

Before today's arraignment the Redding Police Department formally
submitted its Case Summary to the Shasta County Superior Court,
detailing their investigation from its early stages up to when Matthews
and Sims turned themselves in.

According to the Department’s Case Summary, officers arrived to a shots fired call in the Alta Mesa Park area just after 7 p.m. on Sunday. Officers were simultaneously dispatched to a residence on Suzette Avenue for a report of a gunshot victim. When officers arrived they found Sladeck unresponsive in the front passenger seat of a white Jeep Cherokee with at least one gunshot wound to his torso. Sladeck was transported via ambulance to the hospital where he eventually succumbed to his wounds.

The newest development in the case released in the Case Summary is that two other occupants where in the car with Sladeck at the time he was shot. The first witness stated to investigators they were with Sladeck and the second witness in the Jeep at the park to purchase “oxycodone” from Barnhart, according to the Case Summary. The witness told investigators they were seated behind Sladeck, who was seated in the front-right passenger seat of the car, with the second witness seated in the driver’s seat. Soon after the three arrived, they saw a group of people hanging out on a bench just north of where they were parked but could not recognize anyone due to how dark it was.

According to the first witness, a champagne-colored car made a U-turn on Scorpious Way and stopped along the west side facing Venus Way. After it parked two males who were sitting at the park bench reportedly approached the car, spoke with the driver, then walked over and approached Sladeck and the two witnesses in the Jeep.

According to the first witnesses’ statement, the suspect, later identified as Matthews, allegedly asked him if he was looking for something, to which he replied “What you got?” Matthews then allegedly asked him if he had any money, to which the first witness replied “yes”. The witness then claims right after affirming he had money Matthews brandished a firearm and ordered the witness to hand over the money. He also stated Matthews repeatedly ordered Sladeck and the two witnesses out of the Jeep.

The first witness then reportedly told investigators the second suspect, later identified as Sims, attempted to open the passenger door next to the first witness but couldn’t because it was locked. He then stated Matthews struggled to open the door next to Sladeck but couldn’t. As a result Matthews allegedly fired two shots through the right front window, shattering the glass and striking Sladeck.

After Sladeck was shot, the second witness put the Jeep into gear and quickly backed out of the parking lot and drove straight to the location on Suzette Way where officers eventually located Sladeck.

A third witness, who was walking near the park the night of the shooting, provided testimony to investigators which corroborated with the events described by the first witness. When officers arrived at the crime scene, they found broken glass and two expended 9mm shell casings, according to the Case Summary.

The first witness did not know who the two suspects were, but they did confirm they arranged to buy drugs from Barnhart at Alta Mesa Park, according to the Case Summary. It was this testimony which led investigators to the Barnhart residence on Newbury Lane January 27. It was here where Logan reportedly exited his home and was taken to the Redding Police Department’s Investigations Division.

Under Miranda, Barnhart allegedly identified Matthews and Sims’ as the two suspects with him at the park during the shooting and allegedly further identified Matthews as the shooter. Barnhart reportedly told investigators he arranged a drug deal with the first witness and the two allegedly agreed to make the deal at the park.

After viewing a photo line-up, the first witness also positively identified Matthews as the shooter.

During his interview with investigators, Barnhart also reportedly stated Matthews may have had a grudge against the first witness for his alleged involvement in a reported drive-by shooting a few weeks prior to the Alta Mesa Park shooting, according to the Case Summary. Barnhart reportedly stated he gave Sims cash to buy the drugs and watched Matthews accompany Sims to the Jeep confirmed witnessing Matthews shoot Sladeck.

Barnhart also told investigators he, Sims, and Matthews fled the scene after the shooting to Barhnart’s house. Barnhart then reportedly told investigators Matthews stole the 9mm from Banrhart’s roommate before the shooting, but returned it afterwards. Officers obtained a search warrant for the home where they found a 9mm pistol. After the discovery of the weapon, arrest warrants were issued for Sims and Matthews.

Both Sims and Matthews turned themselves in at the Redding Police Department around 8 p.m. Monday. During their interview, Matthews reportedly invoked his right to remain silent. Sims, under Miranda, allegedly told investigators Barnhart did set up the first witness to be robbed of his drugs and cash and that he and Matthews were to commit the robbery. Sims also allegedly told investigators Matthews was the one who shot Sladeck.

The three’s next scheduled court date is February 13 for a plea disposition and another preliminary hearing scheduled for February 18.


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