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Legal eagles set for road-rage trial

Kara Fox
Sun News Service

Deputy District Attorney Christopher Cattran, 38, will take on his first murder trial in Placer County when he calls his first witness to the stand Monday in the people’s case against Timothy Brooks. Although Cattran has worked for Placer County in the Tahoe office since November 1998, a murder has not been committed on the North Shore in more than 20 years.

However, Cattran prosecuted five murder trials with eight defendants in his four years with Tulare County. He was also assigned a murder case a year ago by District Attorney Brad Fenocchio, which plead out.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the California Western School of Law in San Diego, Cattran has been a prosecutor his entire 12-year career.

Defense attorney Marcus Topel will represent Timothy Brooks, who is accused in the stabbing death of Robert Ash.

Topel, 61, is based in San Francisco and his practice includes criminal defense, white collar crime and civil litigation. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California. Topel is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and was listed as a “Super Lawyer” last year in San Francisco Magazine under White Collar Criminal Defense.

Thomas Leupp, a lifelong resident of Placer County, will assist Topel in the case. Leupp, 53, has practiced law in Auburn since 1978. He attended Sierra College and earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Davis, and earned his law degree from McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. He is a member of the California Public Defenders Association and practices criminal defense law, white collar crime, drug crimes, felonies, misdemeanors, assaults and driving while intoxicated.

Ben Galloway, an assistant in Topel’s firm, will also help with the case.

Trial Judge Robert P. McElhany will oversee the murder trial the next two weeks. McElhany, 60, was appointed to a judgeship in the Placer County Superior Court by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last June. A resident of Weimar, McElhany was previously a Placer County Superior Court Commissioner with over 18 years experience on the Superior Court. He was in private practice from 1974 to 1986 and handled everything from family and criminal cases to real estate law.


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