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Lassen County Times
Susanville, California
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July 11, 2000     Lassen County Times
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July 11, 2000
 

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........ , .... -' ...... '-' lilPJIUIIHI NUWS C0tyT {)he Plumas County's dark-e--st00ver episod00a q By Dave Keller played a key role in their of- Staff Writer Twenty-two months ago Greenville's Matthew Black was driven to Quarry Road, an abandoned Forest Service route near Quincy, and was violently beaten to death. The four men responsible for Black's demise---Donald Engel, David Hollars, Ronald Miller and Zachary Shaw--have been punished with prison sentences. Engel and Hollars will not have a chance at parole for 25 years, and they may end up staying in prison for the rest of their lives. They pled to first-degree murder charges earlier this year. "The way things are today, no one gets paroled for first- degree murder anymore," said Plumas County Deputy District Attorney Jeff Cu- nan. "There is virtually no difference between a life sentence with no possibility of parole and a life sentence with the possibility of pa- role." Meanwhile, Miller will not be eligible for release for an- other 13 years, and Shaw probably will not get out for about a decade. They were sentenced nearly two weeks ago for their roles in Black's death. The conclusion of their court cases ends one of the most disturbing chapters in Plumas County criminal jus- tice history. For many of the players in the local criminal justice system, the case sup- plied a grisly bookend to the brutal slayings in Keddie nearly two decades earlier. Drugs played a role It is widely acknowledged that Black's killers were fu- eled, at least in part, by methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug that has been called "the witch's brew" by Shaw's attorney. Cunan, for one, says meth fenses. "None of them were on the path to murder, had it not been for meth," he ays. "Five young men have had heir lives ruined. It's sad for everyone." Unlike most of Plumas County's past homicides, which have typically in- volved family disputes or bar fights or occur in the heat of the moment, the Black case is one of the county's uncommon it makes no sense at all to me mur- ders. "It's irrational, completely irrational," Cunan says. Similarly, Jo Philips, Black's grandmother, called Engel "a time bomb ready to explode." Indeed, the inanity of the offense is exemplified by comments by Engel, who told Shaw at one point that he wanted to commit the murder because he wanted to take Black's soul. The shocking details sur- rounding the crime encour- aged District Attorney James Reichle to consider the death penalty, a punish- ment that has not been sought in Plumas County in 40 years. The planning stages To better understand what took place on Aug. 31, 1998, when Black was killed, one must step back in time, to sometime around the third week of August. One summer day, Shaw and Engel were walking down Main Street in Quincy, mostly just hanging out. Suddenly, Engel started to complain about Black, telling Shaw that he had stolen more than $3,000 in cash from him. Cunan said last week there is no evi- dence that Black actually stole money from Engel. Engel, who was 22 at the Summer Is Here! AND SO IS SUMMER TRAVEL HAVE YOUR VEHICLE SERVICED AT: Your Complete Automotive Repair Center • ASE Certified • A Family Owned Business 251-5200 Chevron Extra security was needed for, from left, defendants Zachary Shaw, David Hollards, and Donald Engel in the Black case when they were transported from the county Jail to the courthouse. Ronaid Miller was still e  juvenile when this photo was taken in September 1998, so he is not pictured. ;s | With time, told Shaw, then barely " ................................. ............................................ rill i 18, he wanted to get the money back by confronting Black. "It would come down to murder if it had to," Shaw has quoted Engel as saying during that Main Street con- versation. Engel wanted Shaw to help hold Black down while he slit his throat, Shaw said in March of 1999. your car to Tfi 701-805 Johnstonville Rd. • Susanville We'll deliver fuel to logging sites, ranches or wherever you might need it. Covering most of Northeastern California Staub Energy 257-3416 702-805 Johnstonville Rd. • Susanville CONfRETE MATER Driveways & Materials • ParRing Lots / Seal Coat / Landscaping Owners: Sandy & Tim Ochotorena and Don & Jeanine Kirkpatfick J OPEN MON-SAT We Will Rock You CA Lic. ..iva -oa i ql.p, Free #679158 702-045 E. Johnstonvflle Rd. • Susanville Estimates Experimental Aircraft Association #794 tlnl;Aln '00 Saturday July 15 Susanville Airport 7 am- 2 pm strawberry pancake Breakyast 7 aomo Chikiren$3 Complete with eggs, ham & more. • Aerobatic • Parachute Jumpers • Local Hang Gliding • Remote • Helicopter Rides • Car Clubs • Show Motorcycles • Douglas DC-3 rides available 257-2030 Susanville Aviation Supporter ........ , .... -' ...... '-' lilPJIUIIHI NUWS C0tyT {)he Plumas County's dark-e--st00ver episod00a q By Dave Keller played a key role in their of- Staff Writer Twenty-two months ago Greenville's Matthew Black was driven to Quarry Road, an abandoned Forest Service route near Quincy, and was violently beaten to death. The four men responsible for Black's demise---Donald Engel, David Hollars, Ronald Miller and Zachary Shaw--have been punished with prison sentences. Engel and Hollars will not have a chance at parole for 25 years, and they may end up staying in prison for the rest of their lives. They pled to first-degree murder charges earlier this year. "The way things are today, no one gets paroled for first- degree murder anymore," said Plumas County Deputy District Attorney Jeff Cu- nan. "There is virtually no difference between a life sentence with no possibility of parole and a life sentence with the possibility of pa- role." Meanwhile, Miller will not be eligible for release for an- other 13 years, and Shaw probably will not get out for about a decade. They were sentenced nearly two weeks ago for their roles in Black's death. The conclusion of their court cases ends one of the most disturbing chapters in Plumas County criminal jus- tice history. For many of the players in the local criminal justice system, the case sup- plied a grisly bookend to the brutal slayings in Keddie nearly two decades earlier. Drugs played a role It is widely acknowledged that Black's killers were fu- eled, at least in part, by methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug that has been called "the witch's brew" by Shaw's attorney. Cunan, for one, says meth fenses. "None of them were on the path to murder, had it not been for meth," he ays. "Five young men have had heir lives ruined. It's sad for everyone." Unlike most of Plumas County's past homicides, which have typically in- volved family disputes or bar fights or occur in the heat of the moment, the Black case is one of the county's uncommon it makes no sense at all to me mur- ders. "It's irrational, completely irrational," Cunan says. Similarly, Jo Philips, Black's grandmother, called Engel "a time bomb ready to explode." Indeed, the inanity of the offense is exemplified by comments by Engel, who told Shaw at one point that he wanted to commit the murder because he wanted to take Black's soul. The shocking details sur- rounding the crime encour- aged District Attorney James Reichle to consider the death penalty, a punish- ment that has not been sought in Plumas County in 40 years. The planning stages To better understand what took place on Aug. 31, 1998, when Black was killed, one must step back in time, to sometime around the third week of August. One summer day, Shaw and Engel were walking down Main Street in Quincy, mostly just hanging out. Suddenly, Engel started to complain about Black, telling Shaw that he had stolen more than $3,000 in cash from him. Cunan said last week there is no evi- dence that Black actually stole money from Engel. Engel, who was 22 at the Summer Is Here! AND SO IS SUMMER TRAVEL HAVE YOUR VEHICLE SERVICED AT: Your Complete Automotive Repair Center • ASE Certified • A Family Owned Business 251-5200 Chevron Extra security was needed for, from left, defendants Zachary Shaw, David Hollards, and Donald Engel in the Black case when they were transported from the county Jail to the courthouse. Ronaid Miller was still e  juvenile when this photo was taken in September 1998, so he is not pictured. ;s | With time, told Shaw, then barely " ................................. ............................................ rill i 18, he wanted to get the money back by confronting Black. "It would come down to murder if it had to," Shaw has quoted Engel as saying during that Main Street con- versation. Engel wanted Shaw to help hold Black down while he slit his throat, Shaw said in March of 1999. your car to Tfi 701-805 Johnstonville Rd. • Susanville We'll deliver fuel to logging sites, ranches or wherever you might need it. Covering most of Northeastern California Staub Energy 257-3416 702-805 Johnstonville Rd. • Susanville CONfRETE MATER Driveways & Materials • ParRing Lots / Seal Coat / Landscaping Owners: Sandy & Tim Ochotorena and Don & Jeanine Kirkpatfick J OPEN MON-SAT We Will Rock You CA Lic. ..iva -oa i ql.p, Free #679158 702-045 E. Johnstonvflle Rd. • Susanville Estimates Experimental Aircraft Association #794 tlnl;Aln '00 Saturday July 15 Susanville Airport 7 am- 2 pm strawberry pancake Breakyast 7 aomo Chikiren$3 Complete with eggs, ham & more. • Aerobatic • Parachute Jumpers • Local Hang Gliding • Remote • Helicopter Rides • Car Clubs • Show Motorcycles • Douglas DC-3 rides available 257-2030 Susanville Aviation Supporter