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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 7:46 am | Fair 35º


Testimony Begins in Corey Lyons’ Double-Murder Trial

Monday's proceedings focus on the lawsuit between the defendant and his brother

The first witness took the stand Monday in the trial of Corey Lyons, the suspect in a 2009 double homicide in Santa Barbara, after prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss and defense attorney Bob Sanger gave opening statements.

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Corey John Lyons

Defendant Corey Lyons is accused of murdering his brother, Daniel Patrick Lyons, 55, and his wife, Barbara Lorene Scharton, 48, in their Mesa house in May 2009.

Jury selection in the case took more than a week, as Judge Brian Hill and both attorneys tried to choose people with as little knowledge of the case as possible. There are four alternates, which results in a crowded jury box.

Lyons remains in custody at the Santa Barbara County Jail, but he appeared in court Monday wearing a full suit.

Monday’s testimony centered on the lawsuit between the two brothers. Daniel Lyons sued Corey Lyons over the construction of his Mesa residence, which was the second home of he and Scharton, both Fresno-based attorneys. Corey Lyons’ company, Select Construction, was contracted to build the house.

The lawsuit accused Corey and Mildred Lyons and Select Construction of disgorgement of compensation, unfair competition, intentional misrepresentation and fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of oral and written contract, and breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, according to court documents.

Witness Gregory Mason, a member of Daniel Lyons’ firm and a good friend of the couple, was questioned about his relationship with the couple and his knowledge of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed in October 2008 and accused Corey Lyons of going without workers compensation insurance for several months of the construction job and underreporting the amounts in other instances, according to testimony. Corey Lyons had admitted to that, but said it was done with the understanding or agreement of Daniel Lyons, Sanger said.

Between testimony that sounded like a law school lecture, Mason said Daniel Lyons had a troubled relationship with at least one of his other two brothers, Patrick. Mason said he had been “reluctant to sue (Corey) because of the things that would happen in regards to the family.”

Sanger was stopped in a line of questioning that focused on Daniel Lyons’ “aggressive” litigation style, and Mason said that while there were “two or three lawyers Dan didn’t get along with,” his former colleague hadn’t mentioned any “enemies.”

Testimony is scheduled to resume Wednesday morning.

Though it hasn’t yet come up in testimony, court documents show the lawsuit was dismissed in January. Colleen Lyons Zitelli, their sister, represented Daniel Lyons’ estate after his death, and the lawuit was dismissed without prejudice.

Additionally, Scharton’s parents have sued Corey and Mildred Lyons for personal injury, property damage and the wrongful death of their daughter. The case hasn’t progressed much yet, and it could be delayed until a verdict is decided in Corey Lyons’ criminal case.

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

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