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,
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,
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
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
Reach Anthony Skeens at firstname.lastname@example.org .