A federal judge on Friday postponed for one week a decision on whether the adoptive parents of the man who killed Sacramento sheriff’s Deputy Robert French should lose their home because he skipped out on his bail last summer.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston agreed to the delay after the attorney for the family of Thomas Littlecloud did not show up for a scheduled hearing on the forfeiture of their Castro Valley home. Their son is dead from injuries he sustained in the shootout that killed French and wounded two California Highway Patrol officers.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Faerstein told the judge that he had tried calling and emailing their lawyer, Erin Crane, but had not been able to reach her Friday morning.
“I was fully expecting her to be here today,” Faerstein told the judge, adding that there had been preliminary discussions of a postponement but nothing formal.
Faerstein said he spoke with Crane on Monday and was told Nichole Littlecloud, Thomas’ mother, had a separate court hearing Friday on custody involving her 5-year-old grandson, Thomas Jr.
He also said he had been told Nichole Littlecloud had suffered a knee injury, and that her husband, Robert, who has dementia, had some sort of surgery.
The judge agreed to put the matter off until next Friday.
“I’m sorry it didn’t get done better, but we’ll just put it over to next week,” she said.
The Littleclouds had offered up their home as collateral for their son’s $100,000 bail last summer despite warnings that they could lose the Castro Valley house if he failed to show for court hearings.
Nichole Littlecloud said in court filings that she was convinced Thomas would appear because he had a 5-year-old son he wanted to continue to be able to see, and she said she wanted her son out on bail so he could take part in a drug rehabilitation program.
By July, however, Thomas Littlecloud failed to appear at two scheduled hearings in federal court, and prosecutors move to force the forfeiture of the home.
Littlecloud, 32, ended up on the run in Sacramento, where he apparently was involved in a car theft ring on Aug. 30 when authorities tried to arrest him and others at the Ramada Inn at Watt Avenue and Auburn Boulevard.
Littlecloud opened fire, killing French and wounding two CHP officers. He fled during a gunfight but later crashed the car and died of wounds from the gunbattle days later.
His parents asked the court to dismiss the case against their son and exonerate the bond, but federal prosecutors filed motions asking the judge to move forward with forfeiture of the home on the grounds that such a move is mandatory under the law.
In court papers, their lawyer recounts Thomas Littlecloud’s dismal childhood as the son of a drunk and a drug addict and later as he bounced around in foster homes, including one where he was sexually abused. The Littleclouds, described as devout Christians, adopted him when he was 10.