A mistake on his record allowed him to own a gun, now he’s suspected of killing a Sacramento County Sheriff
Anton Lemon Paris, the man accused of killing one Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy and wounding another, has been charged on multiple occasions with serious crimes including assault with a deadly weapon and possession of an illegal assault rifle.
With regular frequency, he has been arrested for lower-level offenses including domestic violence and carrying a loaded firearm, according to court records, and reported to police for alleged bank fraud, car theft and making death threats. He has been banned by the courts from owning guns at least twice, but for years has openly flaunted them on social media and on city streets.
As recently as July, he was reported to police for firing a gun in public.
Paris, 38, is now charged with murder and attempted murder for the Sept. 17 Rancho Cordova shooting that left Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Stasyuk dead and his partner Julie Robertson wounded. Paris allegedly pulled a gun on the deputies seconds after they entered the Pep Boys store in Rancho Cordova, shooting a clerk before following Stasyuk outside and firing lethal shots into his back and head.
It’s a grim finale to at least 20 years of violence and trouble that thrust Paris into the path of law enforcement and the courts more than a dozen times, but which resulted more in luck and leniency than consequences. His life was punctuated with a series of minor infractions that made him appear more of a menace than a threat. But a critical mistake on his rap sheet, plea deals, favorable jury decisions and apparent inaction by law enforcement allowed Paris to continue unchecked a chaotic and malevolent life that seemingly slid deeper into criminality the more he escaped punishment, official records show.
“He’s gotten away with everything he has done,” said the daughter of a former girlfriend of Paris’ who says he threatened to kill her. She asked not to be identified because she fears retaliation. “He was the guy who was willing to shoot anybody because he felt entitled to, because he felt above the law. He felt better than everybody, like he could do whatever and get away with it because he has.”
The nunchuck mistake
Paris’ most serious conviction came in 2010 from possessing a pair of homemade nunchucks – a felony that was erroneously recorded on his state criminal record as a lesser charge.
The incident that led to the conviction started with a nuisance call on April 4, 2008. A neighbor living near Paris’ father, Anthony Paris, in West Sacramento called police to report a person playing a car stereo in the morning, loudly enough to trigger her migraines. An officer arrived and found the younger Paris in his Lincoln Town Car, parked in his father’s driveway.
Paris turned down the stereo, locked the car and turned on the alarm as the officer approached. The officer said in court testimony he thought it was strange behavior and became suspicious. He asked to see identification and Paris turned over his wallet. Inside, the officer found a list of guns with serial numbers, according to court records. Two guns on the list were reported stolen, but were never located in Paris’ possession, according to court documents.
The officer searched the car and found a loaded Glock .45 caliber handgun under the passenger seat, ammunition, marijuana, scales and an illegally modified Ruger Mini-14 semiautomatic rifle in the trunk. He also found what Paris claimed was a broken security baton but which a court expert described as homemade nunchucks – two wooden dowels with holes drilled to allow rope to connect them.
Nunchucks are banned in California and Paris was charged with, among other crimes, felony possession of a prohibited weapon.
Paris was registered as a security guard and held a valid exposed firearm permit from the state Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, allowing him to have the handgun in his car for work purposes, agency records show. The rifle was not required by the state to be registered, but was modified with a flash suppressor, according to court testimony. That made it illegal, but Paris claimed he didn’t know about the suppressor.
Paris also possessed a medical marijuana license, making the cannabis legal – though the 101 gram quantity led to charges of selling it. Paris said he used the cannabis to treat pain for a gunshot wound he had sustained in his leg a year prior related to his work as a security guard, when he claimed someone from an apartment complex he guarded had recognized him off duty and attempted to rob his car. He told the court he was receiving state disability from that injury, along with a payment of $8,597.16 from a state victims’ compensation fund, more than $4,000 of which the arresting officer found in the pocket of his 49ers jacket.
A Yolo County jury believed him and hung on most counts, but convicted him of one felony for having the makeshift martial arts weapon. He was also found guilty of enhancements to the felony that included being armed with a firearm and an assault weapon.
Paris was given 273 days in county jail in February 2011. During the sentencing hearing, Paris snuck out of the courthouse and disappeared. Whether Paris was apprehended or turned himself in is unclear, but records show he began serving his sentence in June 2011.
The conviction was listed on his state criminal record, commonly called a rap sheet, as a misdemeanor. The California Department of Justice, which maintains rap sheets, declined to speak about the mistake, citing state privacy laws.
Legal experts said the error may have caused Sacramento courts and law enforcement to treat his more recent crimes and interactions with authorities – including ones involving guns – with less seriousness. A felony on his record might have affected how his subsequent prosecutions and interactions with law were handled, especially on weapons charges. Felons are barred from possessing firearms and violating that ban can result in further felony charges and jail time.
“It makes a gigantic difference in how you approach these calls,” said Plumas County Deputy Sheriff Ed Obayashi, a use-of-force expert who consults on legal matters for district attorneys.
Sacramento prosecutors said they didn’t know Paris was a felon until The Bee questioned the Yolo conviction. Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard said the Yolo conviction is still listed as a misdemeanor on Paris’ rap sheet, though his recent charges now include being a felon in possession of a weapon.
“To this day, it shows that conviction to be a misdemeanor,” Norgaard said last week.
Bethany Lesser, spokeswoman for Attorney General Xavier Becerra, declined via email to discuss the mistake, or whether the state Department of Justice had attempted to remove guns from Paris’ possession, citing state privacy laws. Based on his record, Paris should have been in the department’s Armed and Prohibited Persons System, which identifies people who may have guns but through criminal actions, mental illness or other changes are no longer legally able to possess them.
The Sacramento County DA had a chance to catch the error in November 2012, when then-DA Jan Scully asked in a letter to the Yolo County court for details of Paris’ conviction, including an “abstract of the judgment and sentence.”
Norgaard said his office does not have any records of why the request was made. He speculated that Paris may have been listed as a potential witness in a trial at the time. If so, requesting background information would be common practice for the prosecutor, he said.
He said Yolo never sent the record, but emailed five months later to follow up on the request. Sacramento County did not respond to that email, Norgaard said.
“My guess is whatever case he was involved in had resolved and no one was interested anymore,” he said.
‘It came full circle’
Paris also had five cases in Sacramento court, totaling nine misdemeanor and three felony counts. He was found guilty once after pleading no contest to a single charge.
In 1998, he was acquitted by a jury of two misdemeanor counts of disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. Court records show that case file has been destroyed, so the circumstances are unknown. In 2003, he faced his most serious Sacramento case when he was charged with three felony counts for assault with a deadly weapon and discharging a firearm in an inhabited dwelling.
Andrew Mollerberg – who later worked closely with Stasyuk at a local Walmart for five years – was about 19 and living with his parents in Fair Oaks when the 2003 incident occurred at his house.
According to Mollerberg and court records, it was an attempted drug robbery by Paris that went wrong. Mollerberg said that Paris contacted a friend of his to purchase a large quantity of marijuana. Though Mollerberg was not involved in illegal activity, his friend called Steven Harold Cebelinski, an associate who went by the name “Beaver” and who Mollerberg said sold drugs. Cebelinski was subsequently convicted on federal drug charges in 2008 and is currently incarcerated at Avenal State Prison on drug and weapons charges from a 2016 case in Sacramento, according to state and federal records.
Mollerberg said Cebelinski and Paris retreated to a back room of his parent’s home, while he remained in the living room with friends. Mollerberg heard a single gunshot and Paris ran out. Mollerberg said Cebelinski chased Paris out to the street, where both men had friends waiting in cars. Guns were fired again.
“They proceeded to have a shootout in front of my house. My mom was horrified,” said Mollerberg.
Paris tried to get into a white Saturn, but Cebelinski rammed him with his vehicle, Mollerberg said.
Paris and his friend “end up walking away and him limping and his buddy carrying him,” said Mollerberg. “I’m pretty sure Beaver hit him in the leg.”
Court records show that multiple witnesses refused to testify at Paris’ trial, citing their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Paris was acquitted of all charges.
“It’s crazy that it came full circle and he killed one of my friends,” said Mollerberg of the allegations. “He just killed Mark (Stasyuk). That’s unreal.”
The next year, Paris was charged with two misdemeanors for battery and destroying a phone – a common charge in domestic violence cases. The charges were dismissed.
In 2007, Paris was again arrested on three misdemeanor counts related to domestic violence. Court records said police responded to a duplex in South Sacramento where Paris was living with the mother of his then-7-month-old infant. The woman’s nose was bleeding and she said Paris had shoved her to the ground during an argument. The woman’s teenage daughter told police she had witnessed Paris grab a phone from her mother as she tried to call for help and smash it against a wall.
Police found two empty plastic gun cases, two pistol magazines in the bedroom and loose ammunition on the floor, according to court records. The woman told officers Paris owned a .45 caliber pistol and a revolver, neither of which were found in the house.
The woman also told officers that her father lived in the other half of the duplex but was out of the country. She said Paris had illegally moved in and was growing marijuana there.
Paris pleaded no contest to one count of disturbing the peace. The other charges were dismissed and he was sentenced in August 2008 – four months after the incident in Yolo occurred but before he was found guilty – to three years of informal probation. He was also required to take an anger management course.
Paris’ last appearance in Sacramento court prior to the current charges was in 2016 – six years after his felony conviction. Citrus Heights Police found him with a loaded .45 caliber handgun in his car, according to Sacramento County Superior Court records.
The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office charged Moore with two misdemeanors. One count was later dismissed and Moore pleaded no contest to the other.
He was given 15 days in jail with five off for good behavior and time served and three years of informal probation. The judge, Michael Bowman, also mandated a 10-year firearm and ammunition ban.
Bowman ordered Paris could be stopped and searched anytime “day or night, with or without a warrant, with or without probable cause by any law enforcement officer of probation officer,” a court transcript showed.
‘He put fear in people’
Within months, Paris was again ignoring court orders regarding guns.
In 2014, he dated Barbara Cecil, who was then the financial director of Senior Gleaners, a charity that later merged with the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, according to a family member and a friend of Cecil’s. Cecil had been diagnosed with cancer and wanted to pursue a music career as she grew more ill. Paris, a rap artist who used the stage name Mista Flow, offered to help her, according to a family member.
The family member, who asked not to be identified because she remains afraid of Paris and his association with the East Side Piru street gang, said the relationship quickly became controlling.
As Cecil’s health deteriorated, Paris took over her finances, the family member said. He began driving her bright yellow Mercedes with its handicap license plate, a car the family member said he considered a “trophy.”
He wouldn’t let Cecil see her children without being present, or having his mother present, said the family member. Paris and Cecil moved into his mother’s house in Rancho Cordova, where he said he would treat Cecil’s illness using cannabis. A neighbor said Cecil rarely left the house. Paris persuaded Cecil to use about $30,000 in savings and later her 401(k) to invest in his marijuana business, said the family member.
Cecil’s illness worsened and she was hospitalized, said the family member. Cecil, then 56, refused to leave Paris. The family member and friend said they believed she was afraid.
“I could tell she was scared,” said the family member. “I could tell she didn’t know what to do.”
Cecil slipped into a coma in her last days. The family had Paris barred from the hospital. He posted pictures of two assault rifles and a gun on his Mista Flow account on social media, naming Cecil’s doctors and her hospital.
Cecil died in August, 2016. Her family tried to collect the Mercedes, her guitars and other belongings. Paris’ threats intensified, said the family member. She became so fearful she moved to another neighborhood so Paris couldn’t find her.
“He threatened. That was his thing, is he put fear in people and that was how he thrived was them being in fear of him,” she said. “That’s how he felt powerful because people were scared of him.”
The family member said they reported Paris by name to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and Rancho Cordova police at least 10 times over the summer and fall of 2016 – while he was under the court order for anytime searches – with no results.
Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Shaun Hampton said he could not talk about Paris because of the pending case.
The family member said she and others related to Cecil went to police to report bank fraud, what they considered the theft of the Mercedes (the title remains in Cecil’s name, she said, though the car is currently parked in the driveway of Paris’ residence) and threats Paris made to shoot or harm them via text and social media.
In one of those texts provided to The Bee, Paris wrote, “Tell the police you gone (sic) get shot see what they say.”
In another, Paris wrote, “Yes your (sic) going to get shot that’s a promise.”
The family member said she showed those texts to police but was told they did not warrant action.
“That was stuff he would tell us all the time and we would report it to the police ... and they wouldn’t do anything,” she said. “We were not being taken seriously. We were just kind of brushed off.”
Police suggested they pursue a small claims case or restraining order, she said. The family feared either would antagonize Paris. They eventually decided to leave Cecil’s belongings with Paris.
“(I)t got to the point where we just felt helpless,” said the family member.
Paris likely last crossed paths with authorities before the fatal shooting on the afternoon of July 26. A resident of his Rancho Cordova neighborhood was in his backyard the evening before that when he heard what he thought was firecrackers – but later realized was gunfire. Looking over his fence, he saw Paris, whom he recognized.
“He was like pacing and he was in a very agitated state,” said the neighbor.
He called 911 the next day to report Paris by name, he said, for firing a weapon on the street. Emergency call logs obtained through a Public Records Act Request show Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a possible suspicious person or “5150,” the California law code referring to the statute for temporary, involuntary psychiatric commitment of people exhibiting signs of dangerous mental illness.
The resident said he told the dispatcher another neighbor reported seeing Paris on his porch with an assault rifle earlier that week, and he believed Paris to be mentally unstable.
The resident said deputies came to the street but didn’t approach Paris’ house. Instead, he said, they called the resident and said they would “monitor” the situation.
“Why didn’t they spend more time out here when somebody called them? You know he’s got a record. ... You’ve been told that he’s (got mental illness), that he’s got guns,” said the resident. “They should have done something.”
Cecil’s family member said she knows friends of Stasyuk’s family. She said when she sees the blue ribbons tied to trees to honor Stasyuk, she finds them poignant but frustrating. She feels Paris’ alleged actions were inevitable.
“He could have killed anybody. He could have killed one of us,” she said. “He was legitimately scary and I’m honestly not surprised.”