Jury Hears Opening Statements, Witness Questioning in Marc Valcarenghi Murder Trial

A Butte County jury heard opening statements and the first testimony in case of a Chico woman strangled to death.

Posted: May 8, 2018 4:51 PM
Updated: May 8, 2018 6:28 PM

Oroville, Calif. - A Butte County jury heard opening statements and the first testimony in case of a Chico woman strangled to death.


The jury heard opening statements from both sides Monday morning.

The prosecution led by Deputy DA Jeff Greeson laid out their case.

They broke down to the jury what they will hear about how Audra Houston was found dead in the hotel room and that security camera footage from the Safari Inn will prove that Marc Valcarenghi was the only person entering Audra Houston's room the night before she was found dead.

Greeson said at the end of the trial that he will be asking the jury to find Valcarenghi guilty of 1st Degree Murder.

In the opening statement from the defense, Philip Heithecker said evidence will show that Marc Valcarenghi did not intend to kill Audra Houston.

The defense said it was a drug-filled night that involved violent sexual activity like choking and things went wrong.

The first witness called, Sharmane Cox, worked at the front desk of the Safari Inn.

Cox said when he left he was carrying a garbage can with what looked like the top sheet from the bed, she said he dumped it nearby in a dumpster.

Cox was still frantic and didn't see Audra so she asked him where the hell is Audra and she said he had a creepy smile on his face and said "she checked out this morning"

Cox said she started looking around the room Valcarenghi came back to grab his boots. She said get off the property and started looking around the room which was a complete mess.

The bed was wet, lamp was found on opposite side of room and was broken, missing a length of its power cord that plugs into the wall.

She kept looking around and found the missing piece of cord on the floor next to the bed, then found another piece of cord inside Audra's clothes.

She said the cord appeared to be tied around the sleeve.

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A fire weather watch has been issued from 1pm Monday to 11am Wednesday in the Valley and foothills due to dry and gusty conditions. We'll warm up next week but next weekend is looking much much cooler and wet.
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