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Local News

New Trial Under Way for Murder Suspect Corey Lyons

Testimony centers on claims of unreported wages and talks with former employer

After a mistrial was declared at the end of last year, double-murder suspect Corey Lyons was in court again Thursday after a new trial began this week.

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Corey John Lyons

Lyons is accused of shooting his brother, 55-year-old Daniel Lyons, and his brother’s life partner, 48-year-old Barbara Scharton, in their Mesa home on May 4, 2009.

Lyons, owner and contractor with Select Construction, was involved in a civil lawsuit with his brother. Daniel Lyons filed the lawsuit in October 2008 against his brother for worker’s compensation for construction on the couple’s home, and involved as much as $1.2 million in unreported wages.

Gregory Mason, Daniel Lyons’ lawyer in the civil suit, talked Thursday about the allegation that Corey Lyons didn’t report all of his employee earnings to state oversight boards. An e-mail dated April 15, 2008, that Scharton sent to Daniel Lyons also was shown in which she outlined her allegations against Corey Lyons. Scharton’s e-mail claimed that Corey Lyons underreported payroll to a state board, resulting in his license being automatically revoked. She wrote that because the contractor was unlicensed, the owner of the home didn’t owe anything.

The last sentence in the e-mail was striking. “Corey is in trouble ...” was written just before Scharton’s name was signed on the e-mail.

Whether to admit handwritten notes of Daniel Lyons also was under discussion, but the document was undated, and Judge Brian Hill chose not to allow the document to be presented to the jury. Hill encouraged both attorneys to move on from using Mason as a witness. He said the civil case between the brothers is for context for the jury.

After the break, Mason said he had seen no indication that Corey Lyons had returned the couple’s house keys to their home.

Another witness took the stand Thursday. Jim Cushman, a friend of Corey Lyons and his former employer, testified that Lyons had worked for him as a part of his construction business in the early 1980s.

In April 2009, Lyons went to Cushman to ask for a loan while the lawsuit was going on with his brother. Cushman said Lyons admitted skimping on worker’s comp, and in return, Cushman said he admonished Lyons. The pair came to an agreement that should Lyons need it, Cushman would buy his home for less than appraised value and sell it back to Lyons eventually. The house was never appraised, and the deal never went through, but Cushman said that during the discussions that Lyons broke down in tears more than once.

“He was disappointed that his brother had sued him,” Cushman said. Of selling the house, “he did not want to uproot his family.”

One phone call to Cushman came before Lyons was arrested, and Cushman said Lyons was “distraught.”

“I told him not to do anything stupid,” Cushman said.

The last witness to take the stand Thursday was Keith Fredericks, a supervising investigator at the District Attorney’s Office, who was working in the fraud division when Scharton brought the complaint against Corey Lyons to the office. Fredericks began investigating the worker’s comp claims in 2009. 

Lyons’ trial will resume at 10 a.m. Friday.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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