Involuntary manslaughter defendants make 1st appearance

By From page A1 | May 13, 2013

Three men accused in the involuntary manslaughter of another man appeared in court together for the first time Friday morning.

After speaking in a jury room with attorney David Cramer and a translator, Rodolfo Hernandez appeared before Judge James R. Wagoner to schedule new hearing dates. He was joined by co-defendants Ruben Lizarraga and Sean Canilao, represented by Adam and Dain Weiner, respectively.

Wagoner noted that there had been a motion to transfer the case to South Lake Tahoe, but due to the courtrooms filled with trials, including the Joseph Nissensohn murder trial, there would be no room for the case. As such, if he sent it up there, it would be sent back, he said.

Despite this, Cramer asked for the transfer, as “most if not all of the witnesses” were from South Lake Tahoe. He said he did understand the position, however, the court was in.

Wagoner denied the transfer motion.

The matter of bail for Lizarraga and Canilao was then taken up, with deputy district attorney Joe Alexander noting that the original summons for the two were sent to the wrong addresses. When the pair found out there were complaints against them and they were required to appear, they contacted the DA’s Office. Alexander said they were “of no concern” to him as flight risks, though he would like some bail, as incarceration would be “increasing likely” as hearings went on. He would not entirely mind them being released on their own recognizance, however, as they had shown due diligence and had not failed to appear since they were aware they were to appear.

The Weiner brothers also asked for their clients to be release on their own recognizance, with Dain stating that Canilao was “ready, willing and able to make appearances,” and Adam saying Lizarraga was too.

Adam Weiner also noted that Lizarraga had been turned away from the jail when he tried to do a book-and-release, and had done all he was requested. He had lived his whole life in South Lake Tahoe, and fully intended to appear at the court on the day they told him to come back, Weiner said.

Canilao, too, had gone through the book-and-release process, but had not been turned away, Dain Weiner told the court.

While it was “unusual” to release defendants on their own recognizance in this type of case, Wagoner said, he noted they had indeed shown due diligence and were under his personal orders to reappear in court. He ordered Lizzaraga to uphold his May 23 book-and-release appointment at the jail, but was otherwise free to go.

Not guilty pleas were entered on behalf of Lizarraga and Canilao, and Grand Jury findings were ordered unsealed before the hearing finished.

All three defendants will appear in court again on June 28 at 8:30 a.m in Department 1.

Hernandez is being held in custody over the death of Derek “Zippy” Penaranda, who died Oct. 17, 2012. The three accused were bouncers at Mo’s Place, a bar in South Lake Tahoe where Penaranda was celebrating his 30th birthday. Penaranda was allegedly asked to leave due to unruly conduct and punched bar owner Manish “Mo” Patel, knocking him unconscious. The three bouncers reacted and detained him, knocking him unconscious.

“By the time (South Lake Tahoe Police Department) arrives, the victim has been deprived of blood flow to the brain for long enough to put him into a ‘persistent vegetative state’ from which he never recovers,” Alexander previously said. He had no pulse, though through CPR, firefighters were able to regain a heartbeat.

Hernandez is being held on a charge of involuntary manslaughter and on an immigration hold with a bail of $50,000.

Cole Mayer

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