SAN BERNARDINO – Two of the three people accused of killing a mentally challenged Rancho Cucamonga man in July will need new attorneys because they could face the possible death penalty or life in state prison.
The trio – Antonio Marquis Eubanks, his half-brother John Fitzgerald Dozier and Crystal Ann Carmelo, Dozier’s wife – appeared before Judge Kenneth Barr Thursday in San Bernardino Superior Court where the new lawyers were discussed.
Prosecutors allege the three defendants killed Matthew Thomas Cook, 29, in July at a San Bernardino apartment building for financial gain. Cook was beaten to death and left in a trash can, say San Bernardino police.
Prosecutors filed special circumstances in the case, making it eligible for the death penalty or a life sentence in state prison without the possibility of parole, because they allege Cook was killed during a robbery, explained Deputy District Attorney Lisa Rogan.
“Because of the special circumstances, alternative counsel has agreed to come in,” Barr said during the proceedings.
Eubanks’ new lawyer will be David Call, while Carmelo’s new lawyer will be Dale Atherton, Barr said during the proceedings. Dozier is represented by Deputy Public Defender Richard Lafianza.
Prosecutors charged Eubanks, 21; Dozier, 24; and Carmelo, 28, each with one count of murder, according to the criminal complaint filed in Superior Court. They allege Eubanks and Dozier committed the murder during a robbery.
Carmelo is alleged to have aided and abetted the slaying while she was an accomplice in the robbery, the complaint states.
Prosecutors generally don’t announce whether they plan to actually seek the death penalty until after a preliminary hearing is held, Rogan confirmed.
Police said the defendants befriended Cook, who attended special-education classes, a month or two before he disappeared. Eubanks became Cook’s roommate, and police say the defendants took advantage of him.
On July 10, Cook was taken to an apartment building in the 800 block of Orange Street in San Bernardino and killed. Cook’s family filed a missing person’s report with the sheriff’s station in Rancho Cucamonga on July 17, police said.
Cook’s body was put in a rollaway trash can and kept in a garage at the location. The container was rolled out to the curb on Aug. 15 and the contents were picked up and taken to a landfill in Colton. Police said Cook’s body was not found after a weeklong search at the landfill.
The defendants then went to their victim’s apartment in Rancho Cucamonga, took his electronics and gray Saturn Ion, and drove to Decatur, Ill., police said. They sold Cook’s belongings along the way, said detectives.
Decatur police found Cook’s car and arrested the defendants. All three were returned last week to San Bernardino County to face charges. They are being held without bail at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, according to the Sheriff’s Department.