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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 7:16 am | Fair 50º


Trial for Former Hancock College Basketball Players Delayed Due to Motion

Two former basketball players at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria  could face special circumstances — and a longer prison sentence, if found guilty — if a judge approves a motion filed by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office. 

Lavell Calvin White and Ali Abdul Mohammed appeared Monday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, where Judge James Voysey vacated the planned Aug. 30 start of their jury trial. 

A new trial date was not set.

The men are charged with the fatal shooting of Santa Maria resident Terence Richardson, 23, in a parked car near the intersection of Bradley Road and Jones Street late at night on Dec. 30, 2014. 

Investigators say the fatal shooting occurred during a drug buy when the defendants instead tried to rob the dealer, who was the vehicle’s driver, while Richardson sat in the passenger seat. 

The driver raced Richardson to Marian Regional Medical Center, where he died from the gunshot wounds.

In addition to murder, the two defendants have been charged with attempted robbery, two counts of second-degree robbery and four counts of first-degree residential burglary. 

The judge told Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Savrnoch and the defense attorneys he wanted more arguments on the prosecution’s motion to add special circumstances to the charges faced by both men.

White is represented by Michael Scott and Mohammed’s attorney is Lori Pedego.

Both defense attorneys have objected to the eleventh-hour addition of special circumstances. 

Savrnoch is relatively new to the case, taking it over after former prosecutor Timothy Covello was named a commissioner for the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court near the start of the year.

If allowed to be added to the case, special circumstances would mean the men could face life without the possibility of parole.

The judge told the attorneys he wanted additional time to review the transcripts from the preliminary hearing and research additional information. The attorneys also were told to file additional briefs before the next date in the case, Aug. 29.

A motion amending the charges filed weeks before trial’s start is “very unusual,” Pedego said. 

“In sixteen years, I’ve never heard of it ever happening in this county,” Pedego said. 

Savrnoch declined to comment while a decision to her motion is pending.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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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