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Corey Lyons Sentenced to Two Life Terms in Prison for 2009 Killings

Goleta man convicted of murder for fatally shooting his brother and his brother's longtime partner in their Santa Barbara home

A Goleta man was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison after being found guilty in February of two first-degree murder charges and first-degree burglary.

Corey Lyons was convicted of fatally shooting his brother, Daniel Lyons, 55, and Daniel’s partner of 20 years, Barbara Scharton, 48, in their Santa Barbara home in the early morning hours of May 4, 2009.

Lyons also was found guilty of special allegations: intentionally committing a murder for financial gain, lying in wait, committing crimes with personal use of a firearm and committing multiple murders.

In front of a packed courtroom, Superior Court Judge Brian Hill sentenced Lyons to two consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole, and 50 years to life with the enhancements.

A lawsuit between the two brothers over the Aurora Avenue house Corey built for the couple, where they were later killed, was said to be the motive for the killings. A $250,000 settlement in favor of Daniel Lyons was set to be signed the day he and Scharton were killed in their home on the Mesa.

Scharton’s brother and sister, and Tom Lyons, brother to Corey and Daniel, made victim-impact statements to the courtroom before sentencing.

Barbara was the oldest of four siblings and the matriarch of the family, brother Chris Albright said in a statement read by victim advocate Joan Fairfield of the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

“Our lives are filled with pain, anger, heartache and stress,” Albright said.

Albright’s son, now 7, was babysat often by Scharton when he was much younger, but can’t recall that time with his “Aunt B.”

“Emotions bottleneck in my throat when he looks at her pictures and says, ‘I can’t remember her name, but I know she’s dead,’” Albright said.

Scharton’s sister, Christine Adams, didn’t want to come to court.

“Being in the same room as Corey Lyons makes me physically ill,” she said.

People tell her she sounds just like Barbara, though, and she wanted him to hear that voice one last time.

Life was hard before Barbara’s death, Adams said, and more so without her best friend and confidant. It takes all her strength to manage the pain and loss on a daily basis, she said.

“I love her more than I ever loved anyone,” she said.

She called Lyons a thief and a murderer, and asked for the court to put him to death, but knowing it wasn’t an option, asked for him to spend the rest of his life in prison since there is no chance of rehabilitating “this monster.”

Tom Lyons spoke next.

“I thought I had brotherly love for you — that died three years ago,” he told Corey. “You destroyed what you claimed to care for most: your immediate family.”

Tom said Corey was a coward the night he sneaked into the house on Aurora Avenue and committed the killings, and has been cowardly ever since, never taking responsibility for his actions or exhibiting any kind of remorse.

“You took me from my future,” he added, talking about the plans he had with Daniel, to move closer together and retire together. If there are ever parole hearings, he promised to be there and remind the state how old Barbara and Daniel would have been, what they could have been doing if they were still alive.

“Goodbye, Corey,” Tom said. “You have only you to blame for the nightmare your life has become.”

The life terms are the result of Lyons’ third jury trial in Santa Barbara County Superior Court. The first resulted in a mistrial with a prejudicial statement by Tom Lyons, and the second jury was was unable to reach a verdict.

Before the sentencing, defense attorney Robert M. Sanger unsuccessfully argued for a new trial, saying that the District Attorney’s Office used the three trials as “focus groups” in an unfair way and violated due process.

The third trial was notably different from the first two since Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen was brought out of retirement to replace Chief Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss as lead prosecutor, and the approach was different, including new expert witnesses.

“It’s just plain unfair to try somebody a third time under those circumstances,” Sanger argued.

However, Hill said there were no due process violations, and the jury had come to a decision that was “absolutely, amply supported” by the evidence.

The third jury was bused in from the North County for the three-month trial and unanimously decided on a guilty verdict after deliberating for five hours.

After the sentencing hearing, police and district attorney investigators congratulated each other on the outcome and comforted the victims’ families.

Speaking to reporters outside, Tom Lyons said he doesn’t think Corey realized how vast the destruction would be. The family is “doing OK”, but there will never be closure, he said.

“Did I ever think my own brother, Corey, could be capable of this?” he asked. “No, never in my wildest imagination.”

There had been tension in the family for years – and bad blood between Corey and Daniel – but the damage done by these crimes may not be reparable as the family has split, Tom said.

After the killings, brother Patrick Lyons and their mother moved into the Aurora Avenue home, and sister Colleen Zitelli represented Daniel’s estate and the contentious lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice.

Tom does see the verdict and sentencing as vindication of what many family members knew to be true, he said.

“At the beginning, I was afraid that he did it,” he said. “As we went through the process, I knew that he did it.”

Lyons will be transferred to the Department of Corrections with credit for his 1,638 days served in County Jail. In addition to his prison term, he must pay about $13,000 in restitution, Hill ruled.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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