Drifters Charged With Murders of Tantra Teacher, Canadian Make First Court Appearance - NBC Bay Area
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Drifters Charged With Murders of Tantra Teacher, Canadian Make First Court Appearance

A legal analyst says it makes "tactical sense" to try to the two murders together.

Three drifters charged with murdering a Canadian tourist and tantra instructor in California made their first court appearance Wednesday in a case that will be tried as one despite two deaths in two counties. Jodi Hernandez reports. (Published Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015)

Three drifters charged with murdering a Canadian tourist and tantra instructor in California made their first court appearance Wednesday in a case that will be tried as one despite two deaths in two counties.

Sean Michael Angold, 24; Morrison "Haze" Lampley, 23; and Lila Scott Alligood, 18, faced Marin County Superior Court Judge Kelly Vieira Simmons in connection with the killing of Steve Carter, 67, who was shot to death while hiking with his dog in Fairfax on Oct. 5. The trio was also charged in connection with the Oct. 3 slaying of Audrey Carey, 23, a tourist from Quebec who was shot in the head and found dead in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

The three defendants did not enter pleas when they appeared in red and white striped jail suits with their heads shaved. They did not look at the judge or make eye contact at each other. Lampley was seen yawning at least twice. He has the Roman numeral XIII tattooed on the right side of his neck.

Their arraignment was postponed until Oct. 26 to give Angold and Alligold a chance to find defense attorneys. A public defender will represent Lampley.

"We do ask everyone to remember media coverage is not evidence and all three defendants are entitled to the presumption of innocence," Marin County Chief Deputy Public Defender David Brown said.

Brown argued against cameras being allowed in court. But Simmons said cameras would likely be allowed at the preliminary hearing.

Attorney James Nielson appeared for Alligood, but another attorney will be appointed. "As you can imagine, as she turned 18 in July, it's overwhelming," Nielson said. "I told her she would be getting a court-appointed lawyer."

Nielson said he told Alligood to take deep breaths in court because she felt anxious.

But after court, Mari Freitas, Carter's former tantra teaching assistant and close friend, took exception to Nielson's comment.

"Breathe, breathe, breathe – you know what, all of us are trying to breathe and put our lives back together," she said. "This world is not going to be the same place without Steve Carter."

Freitas who admitted to being angry and heartbroken, added: "There's no reforming people with this kind of mind."

Police say the gun used in the California homicides of Audrey Carey, 23, a tourist from Canada (left), and Steve Carter, 67, a renowned tantra yoga teacher (right), was stolen from a car parked near Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.
Photo credit: San Francisco Police via Carey Family/Ecstatic Living Institute

Each defendant has been charged with murder with special circumstances, although court records indicate only Lampley is accused of illegally carrying a gun.

Though the two victims were killed in two different counties, the cases will be tried together in Marin County, a move that makes "tactical sense," according to legal analyst and former prosecutor Steven Clark.

Clark said Marin County is more conservative than San Francisco, where the Carey was killed. If District Attorney Ed Berberian seeks the death penalty, Clark said, a jury in the North Bay might be more willing to come back with a capital punishment verdict.

"Marin County detectives did most of the work," Clark said. "Even though the first murder was in San Francisco, it makes sense for Marin County to tell the story."

Not all cases can be tried together, but multiple murders that are connected fall under a penal code that allows the cases to be merged.

"It's the exception to the rule," Clark said, explaining that most crimes are prosecuted in the counties where they occurred. "But it's not all that surprising."

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