Revelations of revenge over a drug deal connected to the 2016 disappearance of two Woodland teenagers came to light Wednesday on the first day of the preliminary hearing for the three men charged in their murder.
Defendants David Froste, 27; Jonathan Froste, 21; and Chandale Shannon, 21, appeared in Yolo County’s Superior Court Wednesday afternoon. All three, as well as Jesus Campos, 18, who has been arraigned in juvenile court, have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges in the deaths of Elijah Moore and Enrique Rios.
Prosecutor Jay Linden and his team only had time to call two of their five witnesses Wednesday, but the details shared by Woodland Police Detective Joshua Amoruso and Yolo County Sheriff’s Deputy Lech Garcia paint a picture of a quest for vengeance.
According to Amoruso’s testimony, Shannon declared himself a witness to the murders in a June in-prison interview with the Davis Enterprise. Shannon has said that Moore pulled a gun on Shannon and the elder Froste during a drug deal and stole three ounces of marijuana. As payback, Froste contacted Rios, an acquaintance of Moore’s, and convinced Rios to drive with Froste, Shannon and Campos to a riverbank near Knights Landing, Shannon said.
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There, Froste threatened Rios, who had not been involved in the initial drug deal, with a handgun, demanding him to contact Moore. Rios refused, Shannon said, but offered to reimburse Froste for the weed. Froste then forced Rios to walk to the water’s edge, take off his clothes and get in the water. Froste then fired several rounds in Rios’ direction, Shannon said at the time.
While Froste was reloading after the initial shots, Rios allegedly told Froste to “just end it,” according to Shannon. Then Froste shot at Rios, killing him, Shannon said.
Shannon told the Enterprise he wasn’t present for Moore’s slaying. Froste told Shannon about it later, and said that he threatened Moore with scissors, drove him to an unspecified location, hurt him, drove him to another location described as “the cuts,” and killed him.
According to Garcia’s testimony, Campos independently corroborated much of Shannon’s story.
Campos said that after Froste shot Moore, that he, Froste and Shannon drove back to Woodland, where Froste treated the group to Denny’s with $120 dollars he stole from his victims, Garcia testified.
Last month, Campos told Garcia that he was ready to show authorities where the bodies were buried, spurring a publicized search along the American River, but ultimately couldn’t remember where they were.
In the courtroom, Lola Ruis Gutierrez, Rios’ mother, shook with tears as the witness’ stories unfolded during cross-examination. Gutierrez hasn’t seen her son since October 17, 2016 – the bodies of Rios and Moore, who were 16 and 17 at the time, have yet to be found.
Gutierrez waited until Oct. 19 to notify police of Rios’ disappearance, as Rios had run away from home before but had always come back after a couple of days, per Garcia’s testimony. Besides pinging Rios’ phone, the police department didn’t seriously pursue the case until Oct. 26, a week later.
Steven Alexander Froste, the brother of the two Froste defendants who attended the hearing, said he tried to hold back tears throughout the hearing. He said he felt sorry for the victims, especially Rios, and disappointed in his brothers.
“David’s always had issues – he’s a bad person,” Steven Froste said. “He’s always been the black sheep of the family.” He went on to say that his elder brother mutilated dogs when he was younger and seemed to be filled with a rage he couldn’t handle.
David Froste, who wore a streamlined black suit to the hearing, has been charged with two counts of felony murder and one count of kidnapping. Shannon has also been charged with two counts of murder, and Jonathan Frost has been charged with one count of kidnapping and one count of accessory to a felony.
The preliminary hearing will continue at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Department 14 of Yolo County Superior Court.
Preliminary hearings are conducted to decide not the guilt of defendants but whether the prosecution possesses enough evidence for an actual trial. In doing so, judges use the “probable cause” standard, which is less challenging to fulfill than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.