Hoping for some proverbial charm, the District Attorney’s Office has begun its third prosecution of Corey Lyons, accused of murdering his brother, Daniel, along with longtime partner, Barbara Scharton, in their Mesa home early on the morning of May 4, 2009. The first two attempts at litigation ended in mistrials, the first due to improper testimony, and the second due to a hung jury. The current jury was selected in Solvang, and the jurors are traveling daily from the North County to Santa Barbara by bus.
Deputy D.A. Ron Zonen and defense attorney Robert Sanger gave opening statements on Wednesday. The two agree on many of the facts, but explain them differently. Daniel Lyons and Barbara Scharton were shot to death shortly before 1:28 a.m. in their weekend home with three different guns. Corey Lyons called his sister at 3:30 a.m. from Harwin Properties — a business for which he did contracting work — during which he said, “It’s over,” “take care of my family,” and “this is not a confession.”
Daniel Lyons worked as a lawyer in Fresno, but purchased a weekend home in Santa Barbara, where he grew up, in 2004. In 2006, he decided to raze it and build his dream home, which he hired Corey — who runs a contracting company called Select Construction — to build. On October 17, 2008, Daniel sued Cory for a number of breaches including worker’s compensation fraud. Corey alleges that Daniel and Scharton set him up for the lawsuit. Either way, Daniel came out the victor in mediation, and May 4 was the deadline for Corey to pay his brother $100,000 and sign over a piece of undeveloped property. He also would have had to pay Daniel another $150,000 within the next five years, or lose his house.
Instead, Daniel and Scharton were killed before any of that could happen, and Corey was arrested around 9 the same morning when he emerged from an RV that was parked on his neighbor’s property near his house at 22 Lassen Drive. Police had looked inside (but not searched) the RV earlier in the morning.
Sanger said in his opening statement that a jury cannot convict on motive, and furthermore, all the circumstantial evidence linking Lyons to the crime made him a perfect patsy. The defense also claims that there were two shooters, while the prosecution will argue that Lyons killed both victims who were sleeping in different rooms on different levels of their home on 621 Aurora Drive.
The trial is expected to last until mid-December.