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Third Trial Under Way with New Lead Prosecutor for Double-Homicide Suspect Corey Lyons

Early testimony focuses on the Santa Barbara Police Department’s response to the initial calls of shots fired

The third trial of double-homicide suspect Corey Lyons is under way with a new lead prosecutor and a jury bused in from Solvang to the Santa Barbara County Superior Courthouse.

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Corey John Lyons

Lyons, 52, is accused of fatally shooting his brother, 55-year-old Daniel, and his brother’s life partner, 48-year-old Barbara Scharton, in their Mesa home in the early morning of May 4, 2009.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen and prosecuting attorney Vicki Johnson are handling the case, while Chief Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss handled the two previous trials — one that ended in a mistrial and the second ending with a hung jury with a 7-5 split decision, with the majority saying Lyons was not guilty.

This week’s testimony has focused on the Santa Barbara Police Department’s response to the initial calls of shots being fired. A friend told authorities about the contentious civil lawsuit between the two brothers over construction of the Mesa home by Corey Lyons’ Select Construction, and police began looking for Lyons in the early morning hours of May 4, witnesses testified.

On Thursday, officer Thomas Eccles testified about the response time line. He said he was originally sent to Aurora Avenue to position himself as part of an outer perimeter before being dispatched to Lyons’ Goleta home.

He and a fellow officer met up with three county sheriff’s deputies, since they were outside city limits, and drove to the home on Lassen Drive around 3 a.m.

Once there, they noted a white pickup truck with a lumber rack in the driveway and a white SUV parked in front of the house. Eccles checked the truck for any signs of heat that would indicate being driven recently and found none. In a later test, he said, the truck showed no signs of heat on the grill, hood or tailpipe 15 minutes after driving it from the Mesa home to Lassen Drive.

They then contacted Lyons’ wife, Mildred, who looked around the house for Corey and, not finding him, unlocked the family’s motor home that was parked across the street.

“She did appear confused and concerned as to why she couldn’t find him,” Eccles said.

The couple were sleeping in different rooms, and he said Lyons was watching TV when Mildred went to bed around 10 p.m.

Eccles looked around the inside of the motor home and didn’t see anyone in the bedding areas. He then checked the truck again, finding Corey’s wallet and a key ring for the truck. Lyons’ cell phone was inside the house in a bedroom.

More officers and detectives joined him later in the morning at the Goleta residence, still with no idea about Lyons’ location.

By then, Eccles had heard that SWAT had gone into the Aurora Avenue home and found two bodies.

At 9 a.m., to Eccles’ surprise, Lyons stepped out of the motor home and walked to his house. That’s when Eccles approached him and escorted him to the front yard, where he was handcuffed, Eccles testified.

Defense attorney Bob Sanger began questioning Eccles in the last few minutes Thursday and asked Eccles how he established the time line for his police report of the incident.

The trial will resume at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

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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