Crime - Sacto 911

Modoc woman accused of rancheria slayings held for trial

Recordings of a rampage that left four people dead at a Paiute Indian tribe council meeting in February were played in a Modoc County courtroom Wednesday.

Afterward, visiting judge John T. Ball ordered a jury trial for Cherie Lash Rhoades, 44, the former tribal chairwoman who stands accused of fatally shooting four victims – three of them family members – and wounding two others.

The violence erupted as Rhoades and her son were being evicted from housing at the tribe’s Cedarville Rancheria, said Modoc County District Attorney Jordan Funk. The tribal council was conducting an eviction hearing with a judge, who appeared by telephone in a proceeding that was recorded.

At Rhoades’ preliminary hearing Wednesday, Funk played the recording. A gunshot could be clearly heard, followed by the sound of screaming and the crying of a baby identified as the 5-day-old infant of one of the victims. The district attorney also played a video recording from the tribal office’s surveillance system.

Killed in the Feb. 20 attack were Rhoades’ brother Rurik Davis, 50; her niece Angel Penn, 19; her nephew Glenn Calonicco, 30; and Shelia Lynn Russo, 47, a tribal administrator who managed evictions. All were shot with a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun and pronounced dead at the scene.

Melissa Davis and Monica Davis, victims in the alleged attempted murders, are both recovering, Funk said.

As recordings of the attack were played in the courtroom in Alturas, Rhoades held her head in her hands with her elbows on the defense table.

Funk charged her with four counts of murder and a special circumstance alleging multiple murders that makes her eligible for the death penalty.

“Death is definitely not off the table,” he said.

Funk also charged Rhoades with two counts of attempted murder, each with sentence-lengthening enhancements for the use of a firearm and infliction of great bodily harm. One additional enhancement charges Rhoades with using a knife in an attempt to commit murder.

Rhoades had been suspended three weeks before the attack pending a federal investigation into allegations that she embezzled at least $50,000 from the 35-member tribe.

In March, she pleaded not guilty to the murder charges and has been held without bail since her arrest on the day of the shooting.

Judge Ball scheduled her arraignment for Aug. 13.

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