Murder case may end up exceeding $200,000 mark
It could cost more than $200,000 to prosecute Jarrod Wyatt, accused of the murder of a friend in 2010.
Prosecution costs have been tabbed at about $160,500 so far, and that number could soar if a trial scheduled for September takes place.
The bulk of the money — $136,000 — has gone to a special prosecutor, Nico Mavris, for his work on the case over the past seven months.
He was hired to help District Attorney Jon Alexander handle the case.
The money initially comes from the county’s coffers, but can be recouped from the state after legislation was approved that awarded the DA’s Office $700,000 to handle the Wyatt case and two other murder cases that threatened to drain the county’s budget. The reimbursements will only apply to extraordinary costs such as forensics specialists, experts and a second prosecutor — Mavris.
The two other murder cases, now completed, used $146,000 of the money.
“When the homicides occurred I had gotten ahold of our advocates and we started talking with some people at the state level about trying to get some relief,” said County Administrator Jay Sarina. “We’ve been working off of that since the legislation has passed. It’s a considerable assistance to the county.”
Wyatt, 27, a former mixed martial arts fighter, is accused of fatally beating Taylor Powell, 21, of Crescent City, on March 21, 2010, in a gruesome attack that involved mutilation.
Wyatt was found by authorities naked and covered in blood standing near Powell’s body.
Wyatt told authorities at the time that he was under the influence of hallucinogenic mushroom tea and he believed his friend was the devil.
He faces charges of murder with special circumstances of torture and aggravated mayhem, using a deadly weapon while committing a felony, aggravated
mayhem and torture.
Mavris has been working to help Alexander prove Wyatt had the intent of mayhem and torture, which are special allegations tacked onto the murder charge that allow a sentence of life without parole for Wyatt if convicted. The task is difficult due to the defense arguing the intent to murder is diminished because Wyatt ingested drugs beforehand, Alexander said.
He said Mavris has been a great asset hired at a discounted price. Mavris is being paid $125 per hour, compared to $300-$400 an hour other special prosecutors would demand, Alexander said.
“To find someone who would relocate on short notice to devote themselves full time at $125 an hour, I can’t stress enough the fortuitious nature we have been able to retain Nico Mavris,” said Alexander. “He’s done exemplary legal work for me.”
Mavris was hired after several local attorneys who were qualified to handle such a case —including his brother George Mavris — declined and a retired attorney agreed, but later backed out, Alexander said.
“Nico Mavris has been an attorney in California since 1994,” said Alexander. “He has broad experience in legal research and motion work, having maintained his own practice, as well as doing similar legal work for other firms.”
Mavris had his law license reactivated Nov. 16 — two weeks before he began work on the Wyatt case — following almost a six-year period of inactivity.
Mavris is also a restauranteur in Carmel, Calif.
“His periods of being ‘inactive’ belie his successful restauranteurship and being a nationally known photographer, which brings a breadth of life experience to a case in need of communicating with various experts,” said Alexander.
Mavris has been staying with his mother in Crescent City since begining work on the case, which has eliminated room and board costs for the county, Alexander said.
“We were extremely fortunate to retain someone with his talent and ability,” the DA said. “Any criticism of his retention is totally unfounded and would have to be based upon either legal naievete or sheer malice.”