District Attorney: Deadly Truckee assault an immature, ‘senseless crime’ | SierraSun.com

District Attorney: Deadly Truckee assault an immature, ‘senseless crime’

Bryan Luke Sperlin was arrested June 18 on suspicion of a felony charge of battery causing serious bodily injury.
Courtesy Nevada County Jail |

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Police arrested a 24-year-old local man on suspicion of felony voluntary manslaughter this past weekend for his alleged role in a fatal assault in June that Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell this week called a “senseless crime.”

According to a statement from the Truckee Police Department, officers arrested Bryan Luke Sperlin of Truckee at about 6:50 p.m. Friday, July 8, on Martis Valley Road.

“Officers spotted Sperlin driving his vehicle leaving the Glenshire Area,” according to a Friday statement from TPD. “A traffic stop was conducted and Sperlin was arrested without incident.”

Sperlin, who turns 25 on July 15, was originally arrested on suspicion of felony assault after a “physical fight” occurred June 18 in downtown Truckee with 39-year-old Jesse Hill, of Chico.

Hill — a Truckee native and graduate of Truckee High School who had been living in Chico — eventually died of his injuries on July 3.

Sperlin’s bail was initially set at $50,000 on suspicion of two felonies and one misdemeanor charge.

He made bail and was scheduled to be arraigned on July 18 at Nevada County Superior Court in Truckee, Newell said in a Tuesday interview.

However, with Friday’s arrest, the DA’s office amended its charging document to include the felony charge of voluntary manslaughter, Newell said.

“Based on … (the fact) the victim is deceased, and on the initial investigation details from the Truckee Police Department, (they) gave us sufficient information to move forward with the voluntary manslaughter charge,” Newell said Tuesday when asked to comment on the case. “I just want to say that the Truckee PD did an extraordinary job of investigating this case; they really tend to make our job easier in making these decisions.”

The updated charge effectively canceled the July 18 hearing; an arraignment date is now set for Aug. 8 in Truckee.


Sperlin’s bail was set at $100,000 on the felony voluntary manslaughter charge after he was booked Friday into Nevada County Jail. He has since made bail, DA’s office officials confirmed Tuesday.

Newell said Sperlin had initially “hired a private attorney” for the original charges, but it wasn’t clear as of this week if the same attorney is representing him through the more serious charge.

According to California law, voluntary manslaughter applies to a killing committed either during a sudden quarrel, or in the heat of passion. A conviction can carry a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison.

“It’s a tragic death, and it’s a tragedy that reaches out and touches a lot more than just the victim’s family,” Newell said. “This was a senseless crime, and there wasn’t any reason for something like this, from my perspective. It’s just a senseless act … all due to a lack of maturity…”

Meanwhile, the TPD still wants witnesses to come forward. Anyone with information about the June 18 incident should contact TPD Sgt. Bob Womack at rwomack@townoftruckee.com, or call Truckee Police at 530-550-2323.

“The Truckee Police have been continually investigating since the original incident,” according to Friday’s statement. “… The investigation has been referred to the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office for judicial proceedings.”

“The Truckee Police Department will not be releasing any additional information or making any public comments regarding the investigation,”

Last week, Truckee Police Chief McGill told the Sierra Sun as much when the newspaper sought to obtain a copy of the initial police report and other investigation details.

“… We will not release any materials relating to the case at it remains an open and active investigation (per CA law),” McGill wrote in an email. “All required public disclosures have been made in our press releases and the press log…”

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