Nevada County murder trial of Jason Schuller resumes
The Nevada County judge in the murder trial of Jason Schuller ruled Monday, Dec. 11, that prosecutors can’t call a witness who would have bolstered testimony that Schuller “came out,” which could be a potential motive in the death.
Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger decided that the wife of Jesse McKenna couldn’t testify today because any implication by defense attorneys that her husband lied on the witness stand didn’t rise to a legal level that would require it.
Micah Pierce, deputy public defender, said someone must cast McKenna’s testimony in doubt before a witness like his wife is called.
“I really think it’s premature,” Pierce said.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh argued that Pierce’s questioning of McKenna implied that McKenna lied, leading him to ask for McKenna’s wife to testify.
Pierce said he intended to call the officer who interviewed McKenna to the witness stand. That officer’s testimony could trigger a legal requirement, giving prosecutors the ability to call McKenna’s wife.
Heidelberger said if he didn’t call that witness, she’d prohibit Pierce from arguing at the end of trial that McKenna could have lied.
Prosecutors wanted to call the wife, because they said she would reinforce her husband’s testimony that the 36-year-old Schuller — charged in the March 2016 death of William Tackett, 67 — told Tackett he was gay. Schuller coming out and then having Tackett forbid him from his Banner View Drive home could be a possible motive in the slaying.
Schuller has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Authorities claim that Schuller shot Tackett and set his body on fire before fleeing Nevada County. Officers arrested him after a chase that ended in Sacramento.
The trial resumed at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12.