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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 7:04 pm | Fair with Haze 56º


Third Double-Homicide Trial Against Corey Lyons Expected to End in December

Sister Colleen Lyons Zitelli testifies about a phone call she received from the suspect on the day of the shootings

The Corey Lyons double homicide criminal trial is expected to end in mid-December, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Brian Hill said Monday.

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Corey John Lyons

Lyons is accused of killing his brother, Daniel, and his brother’s life partner, Barbara Scharton, on May 4, 2009, in their Mesa home. Neighbors called police after hearing shots coming from the home, and when authorities made their way in, they found the two bodies shot to death in different rooms.

This is the third trial; the first one ended with a mistrial, and the second ended in a hung jury with a 7-5 split decision. Jurors for this trial are bused in every day from Solvang.

After being at the helm for the first two trials, Senior Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss was replaced by Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen. Lyons is represented by defense attorney Robert Sanger.

Much of the criminal case has focused on the civil lawsuit between the brothers over the home Lyons built for the couple. After mediation, the lawsuit was slated to be settled for $100,000 cash, a $100,000 or $150,000 note on the Lyons’ Goleta home, and their empty property as well. The couple would have to refinance their home to get the cash, and initially there was the threat of Corey Lyons losing his contractor’s license with the lawsuit. The settlement papers were scheduled to be signed May 4 — the day Daniel Lyons and Scharton were killed.

After Daniel Lyons was killed, sister Colleen Lyons Zitelli represented his estate and the lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice.

This week, Zitelli testified in Hill’s courtroom about a 3:30 a.m. phone call she received from Corey Lyons on the day of the shootings. Lyons wasn’t in his Goleta home when police visited around 3 that morning, and phone records show he made the phone call from the office of Hilary Harwin, a friend and former employer. The office is located across a dog run from the Lyons’ Lassen Drive home.

At the end of Monday’s day in court, Zonen pressed Zitelli about two particular phrases Lyons used in the conversation: “It’s over” and “This is not a confession.”

When asked whether she thought his remark of “it’s over” referred to the settlement, she said she hadn’t made any conclusions at the time. Zonen also asked what she thought was meant by, “This is not a confession.”

“I don’t remember what I thought,” she said, adding that she didn’t remember whether it seemed out of context for their conversation. She said it was about a half-hour later that she tried to call him back by hitting redial and dialing his cell phone because she was worried about the way he sounded.

Around 3 a.m., police were searching Lyons’ home, truck and looking into the motor home parked across the street. Santa Barbara police Officer Thomas Eccles testified that Lyons’ wife, Mildred, seemed “confused and concerned as to why she couldn’t find him.”

Around 9 a.m., Lyons stepped out of the motor home and walked to his house, which is when Eccles approached him and escorted him to the front yard to be handcuffed.

The trial will continue at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

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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