Crime - Sacto 911

Judge sets May trial date in Lyon video voyeur case but urges settlement

Attorney William Portanova, left, with Michael Lyon and Shannon Lynn Campbell
Attorney William Portanova, left, with Michael Lyon and Shannon Lynn Campbell Sacramento Bee

A Sacramento Superior Court judge on Friday set a May trial date for former real estate executive Michael Lyon, who is facing video eavesdropping charges for the second time. The judge then exhorted the lawyers in the case to find a way to settle the matter without going to trial and asked them to return in January for a last-ditch effort at agreeing to a plea deal.

“I have done everything I can to settle this case,” Judge Ben Davidian told Lyon; his co-defendant, Shannon Lynn Campbell, and the lawyers. “I’m going to do it one more time ...

“I strongly recommend both sides look it over and give me your best deal,” the judge added. “This case should not be going to trial, in my view, but that’s your right.”

Prosecutor Mike Kane and Lyon defense attorney William Portanova both said they would agree to return for a Jan. 8 settlement conference. If that session fails to resolve the case, a trial readiness conference was set for April 1 and trial for May 2.

Portanova has acknowledged in the past that the two sides have discussed possible plea agreements as a routine course of action, but would not discuss what offers have been made.

Lyon has a previous conviction for secretly recording four women in his home that resulted in him spending a month in jail and five months in home detention. He also paid $2.5 million to settle a civil suit filed by eight former friends and employees who said he had filmed them in his home.

Lyon’s current case involves 16 felony counts of video eavesdropping charging that he secretly recorded eight women in his home without their knowledge. The latest charges stem from an October 2014 raid on his Arden Park home after he failed to appear for a scheduled meeting with a probation officer.

Authorities say they found drugs in the home and arrested Lyon, 59, and Campbell, 41, who faces drug charges.

Both suspects pleaded not guilty at a hearing in November and waived their right to a preliminary hearing.

Davidian said Friday that the case has dragged on and that the prosecution will have to start moving forward for trial preparation if an agreement cannot be reached.

“It’s pretty much now or never,” the judge said.

Sam Stanton: 916-321-1091, @StantonSam