Crime - Sacto 911

Gridley man charged in Sutter County homicide of orchard worker, sheriff says

Sutter County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Gridley man Friday on suspicion of shooting a man to death in a Live Oak walnut orchard, law enforcement officials said.

Jesus Esteban Perez, 39, who was already in custody at the Sutter County Jail, is now charged with first-degree murder in connection to the the death of Paramjit Singh Randhawa, sheriff’s officials said in a news release.

Shannon Marie Johnson, 38, was also arrested in connection to the case for allegedly withholding information and “lying about the homicide investigation,” the sheriff’s office said.

Johnson reported the homicide on May 25, telling authorities a man with a gunshot wound to his head was down in an orchard on the 11000 block of Meyers Road in Live Oak, according to the news release. Johnson also reported seeing a blue car in the area but didn’t know if it was connected to the incident, the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies responded and found the man in the orchard dead of a gunshot wound to the head. Another deputy located a blue Honda nearby but the driver fled when the officer attempted to make a traffic stop. After a short pursuit, the driver of the blue Honda lost control and crashed in the area of Pass Road and West Butte Road.

The driver of the Honda was identified as Perez, who is from nearby Gridley, the sheriff’s office said. Deputies also found a shotgun in the area, according to the news release.

Perez was initially booked into the Sutter County Jail on charges unrelated to the homicide, including evading a peace officer, threatening a peace officer and felon in possession of a firearm. He was charged with homicide on Friday.

Randhawa, the victim in the homicide, was an immigrant from Punjab, India, who worked in the fields around Yuba City for 38 years, according to his obituary in the Marysville Appeal-Democrat.

”He started his first day of work in the fields the day after he arrived to the United States and worked the fields for 38 years, and in these fields he took his last breath,” his obituary said.

Randhawa is survived by his wife and three daughters.

Molly Sullivan covers crime, breaking news and police accountability for The Bee. She grew up in Northern California and is an alumna of Chico State.