Detective describes shooting death of deputy Mark Stasyuk at preliminary hearing
Anton Lemon Paris watched Deputy Mark Stasyuk’s final moments from his wheelchair in a Sacramento courtroom.
He watched himself pull a gun from his sweat pants in the middle of a Rancho Cordova Pep Boys auto parts store; watched as he opened fire on Stasyuk and fellow Deputy Julie Robertson; watched an ambushed Stasyuk bolt for the store’s parking lot ahead of the barrage; and watched himself shoot Stasyuk dead.
Paris will face trial on first-degree murder in Stasyuk’s killing, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled at the end of the preliminary hearing Friday.
Judge Kevin McCormick arraigned Paris for trial on the murder charge and on separate attempted murder charges in the shootings of Robertson and Pep Boys employee Arturo Nolasco in the shootout the early afternoon of Sept. 17, 2018.
Paris, through his attorneys, pleaded not guilty to the charges. No court date has been set.
Paris was shot multiple times in a nearby parking lot after he turned his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson on deputies. Paris remains in a wheelchair as he recovers from his wounds. Paris, who is being held without bail in Yolo County custody in Woodland, returns Dec. 13 to Sacramento Superior Court.
Sacramento County district attorney’s prosecutors in April announced they will seek the death penalty despite a moratorium by Gov. Gavin Newsom on capital punishment earlier this year. Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and other prosecutors have previously argued that Newsom’s moratorium has no impact on their ability to seek death penalty sentences.
Paris’ attorneys, Sacramento County Supervising Public Defender Mickey Sampson and deputy public defender Thomas Clinkenbeard, vowed Friday to keep Paris out of the death chamber.
“Mr. Paris is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” Sampson said. “Soon, it will be clear that he is an inappropriate candidate for the death penalty.”
One by one, the deputies and detectives who rushed to 10899 Folsom Blvd. took the witness stand, as Stasyuk’s family looked on from several rows in the gallery.
Testimony gave voice to Nolasco, who tried to duck the sudden gunfire only to be shot in the upper back; and Deputy Robertson, who was wounded in the gunbattle with Paris.
Paris was angry, testified sheriff’s Detective Andrew Cater, who interviewed the store’s manager. Paris accompanied his girlfriend, a Lyft driver, to a car rental kiosk at the auto store. As a clerk told the girlfriend that her car was going to be repossessed for lack of payment, an agitated Paris paced back and forth. The store manager figured Paris was high on meth or crack, Cater said. Paris ultimately made the statement that would bring Stazyuk and Robertson to the scene.
“He said Paris made one statement, ‘I have shooters on deck,’” Cater said of his interview with the store manager “He believed Paris had a gun. It made him fearful. He told someone to call 911.”
The store manager met Stasyuk and Robertson outside. Stasyuk was a young sheriff’s deputy who grew up in Rancho Cordova, and Robertson had joined the department a couple of years earlier after a stint in the Army. Both patrolled solo, but often teamed on calls, detectives later testified.
The three started to walk into the store, the store manager behind the officers., when gunfire rang out from inside.
Stasyuk had just walked into the store, Robertson close behind, sheriff’s homicide Detective Cathy Crowley testified. Crowley interviewed a wounded Robertson in the hospital.
“Hello, we’re the police. What, are you scared to talk?” said Stasyuk, as Paris appeared to turn to run, Crowley testified.
The deputies went after Paris; then Robertson heard shots.
“From there, things got a little blurry,” Robertson told Crowley. Robertson didn’t know she had been shot. Paris’ .40-caliber round ripped through Robertson’s arm, but managed to miss vital tendons and bone, doctors would later say.
Security video showed the chaos that quickly followed: The man later identified as Paris fired from behind a sales corral as Nolasco and another salesman ducked for cover before Paris chased Stasyuk to his death in the parking lot. Stasyuk was shot once in the back of the head and again in the back. He died at the scene. Stasyuk was 27.
Robertson fired through the storefront’s glass and sought new cover as Paris re-entered the building to continue the attack, the video showed.
Nolasco saw Paris’ handgun, turned, then ducked behind the sales counter, Deputy Devin Folk testified. Nolasco heard one shot and felt a second “like a hard punch” in the back, Folk said. More gunfire followed as the wounded Nolasco crawled to the back of the store. Nolasco then heard Robertson’s voice: “Officer down.”