A preliminary hearing on Nov. 21 to determine whether Richard Kenneth Petroski would need to be arraigned and stand trial ultimately led to a hearing date for an arraignment.
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As Petroski was being escorted to the counsel table, defense attorney Mark Ralphs stipulated that the identification of the parties involved, that the events happened in El Dorado County, and the cause of death were all true. Deputy district attorney James Clinchard agreed to the stipulations and identified detective Rich Strasser as the investigating officer on the case, who sat beside Clinchard for the duration of the hearing.
The prosecution called its witness, Amy Settle, to the stand. Settle was living in a fifth-wheel trailer on the side of John Malia’s house at the time of his shooting. She testified that at about 7 a.m. on Dec. 4, 2011, Petroski came outside and woke her up. “He told me he shot and killed John. I thought he was kidding.”
She ran to the house, where she found the front door open and Malia, Petroski’s stepfather, on the floor of the entryway, with blood on the carpet. It was later clarified that the stipulation of cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.
Settle yelled at Petroski to “get the hell out of there,” she testified. He had given her what she thought was a .22 caliber rifle but grabbed it out of her hands. He had been telling her to shoot him, but she had not, she said, so he put the barrel of the gun in his mouth. While he was doing this, she was running to call 911, she said.
She heard a shot and turned around. Petroski was lying on the front deck, having shot himself. She grabbed the phone and ran out of the house, Petroski now standing up.
With no further questions, Ralphs took over. Settle testified that she could not remember whether Petroski had told her to call for help, but he did not stop her. She reiterated that she found Malia on the floor, his head towards the entertainment center and his feet towards the center of the living room of the house. In the office next to the living room, which always had a door open, she said, there were two handguns. Ralphs also asked whether the front door was partially or fully open, but Settle was unsure. She did not have to push the door open any further to enter the house, however.
With both sides resting, Settle was excused. Visiting Judge Carl Bryan deemed the evidence reasonable and sufficient for Petroski to be arraigned. His arraignment hearing was set for Dec. 10 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 1.