Last Wednesday marked day four in the double murder trial of Corey Lyons, who stands accused of killing his brother, Daniel Lyons, and his brother’s life partner, Barbara Scharton, in the Mesa home that he had built for them.
The day’s proceedings began with the continued cross-examination of Greg Mason — an attorney and close friend of the couple who was set to represent the two in a civil suit they had filed against Lyons over the construction of their home.
Lyons, a contractor, had been hired by the couple to demolish and then rebuild their Aurora Avenue residence in 2005. During the construction, however, a number of disagreements between the two parties arose, and ultimately Dan and Barbara decided to resort to legal means to resolve the matter. In the subsequent lawsuit, the two accused Lyons of a number of crimes, including breach of contract, fraud, and negligence, and at one point asked for damages in excess of $1 million.
Mason’s testimony focused on the details of the lawsuit, and he answered questions from both sides on the motives behind it and the allegations it charged. According to Mason, Corey Lyons admitted in his response to the complaint that he had, at times, failed to provide worker’s compensation insurance, and in the times that he did provide it, purposefully underreported his payroll to the State Compensation Insurance Fund in order to save on the cost of premiums. Lyons, however, claimed that he did so at the request and to the benefit of his brother, who had allegedly agreed to pay for the insurance.
In addition to the civil suit, the victims also pursued the filing of criminal charges against Lyons. The second and last witness called for the day was Jeffery Fredericks, a supervising investigator for the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office. According to testimony given by Fredericks, Barbara Scharton — who herself had been a volunteer in the DA’s Office — sent an email to then-District Attorney Christie Stanley asking about the possibility of having the alleged fraud investigated by county authorities. In response, Stanley forwarded the email to the county’s fraud investigation unit, who then used the verified complaint and the admissions in the response to open a criminal investigation into the matter.
Throughout the day’s proceedings, the defense attempted to paint the civil lawsuit as overly aggressive and punitive in nature, and argued that Scharton’s pursuit of criminal charges in this fashion was consistent with that narrative. In doing so, Sanger pointed to the fact that when county officials decided to open their fraud investigation, they completely ignored Lyons’s allegations that the fraud had been committed at his brother’s behest, insinuating that the DA’s office was more interested in doing their former employee a favor than actually investigating a potential crime. When asked to explain why the investigation was never expanded to include Daniel Lyons, Fredericks offered only that “the investigation never got that far.”