There is not enough evidence that Cory Lyons killed his brother and brother’s partner in their Mesa home last year, said Bob Sanger, defense attorney for Lyons. He doesn’t know who did, Sanger said in his opening statements Monday morning, but it wasn’t his job to solve the crime.
Sanger alleged that there was not one, but two shooters inside the Mesa home, including someone who possibly was still roaming inside the house as late as 6:40 a.m. He anticipated multiple responding officers testifying about hearing a cough from inside the home around that time, long after police believe Lyons would’ve left the scene. He said evidence showing the trajectory of the gunshots which killed Daniel Lyons and his life partner Barbara Scharton will go to show a single assassin couldn’t have perpetrated the killings. “The shootings don’t correspond to one shooter, either in timing or nature,” Sanger said.
This, of course, is in contrast with the contentions of the prosecution, which has pointed to a lawsuit between the estranged brothers as the motive behind the killings. “In broad terms, I think you’re going to find there’s evidence that contradicts the prosecution’s theory,” Sanger said. Senior Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss gave his opening statement Friday afternoon. To read about the opening statement from Auchincloss, go here.
Lyons is charged with two counts of murder, each with special circumstances of lying in wait, committing a double murder, and murder for financial gain. If any of the special circumstances are found to be true in connection with the crime, it could mean life without parole. There is also an allegation of him using a gun, which could add an additional life sentence. He is also charged with residential burglary. “This is a very serious case,” Sanger told the jury.”
Neighbors of the 621 Aurora Avenue home which Cory Lyons – a contractor – built for his brother, called police just before 1:30 a.m. after hearing gunshots from inside the home. At the time, Daniel Lyons was suing his brother for, among other things, breach of contract, theft and construction fraud. Among the allegations was that the home cost twice as much as it should’ve and took twice as long to build. The home also leaked, according to the suit.
Sanger said the lawsuit was over the top and Daniel Lyons and Barbara Scharton were overly aggressive in going after Cory Lyons – who was torn about the litigation - in the suit. As Ray Myer, attorney for Cory Lyons in the civil suit wrote in court documents: “This is a Cain vs. Abel type lawsuit with hatred as the driving force rather than merit.” They even went to the level of approaching the district attorney’s office to attempt pursue criminal charges against Cory Lyons, Sanger said.
Sanger said much of the evidence, like gunshot residue allegedly found on the hands of Cory Lyons was “junk science.” The evidence will show, he said, that residue is usually made up of barium, lead and antimony, all of which could be found at most construction sites. As well, he said, a sample of Cory Lyons’ hands wasn’t taken for quite some time. The hands could’ve been contaminated by handcuffs, the patrol cars, or the interview rooms. Or it could’ve been from two concrete nail guns Lyons used in his construction work, which actually shoot like guns. As well, a pair of motorcycle gloves he owns could’ve been the cause. “There’s a lot of evidence that can’t be ignored that absolutely points away from him,” Sanger said.
He did own guns, but none of the guns found were used in the shooting. There was also no evidence that Cory Lyons had any blood on him from the scene of the gruesome murders. “He said some things and made some claims that are absolutely untenable,” Sanger said of Auchincloss.