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Men accused of theft after human remains in urns found missing

A bizarre criminal case involving the theft of human remains is slated to go to trial for one defendant in January. The 55-year-old defendant was allegedly assisted in the thefts by a 68-year-old man, whose trial will be scheduled for the coming weeks. Both men are accused of stealing urns from the Evergreen Funeral Home and Memorial Park in California. The theft allegedly involved turning the urns into scrap metal that could be sold for profit. The human remains were reportedly discarded.

Both men have entered not guilty pleas for several felony charges that have been levied in connection with the alleged thefts in May. The older man, however, reportedly wrote a letter admitting that he played a role in taking the urns. It is not clear how that letter will be presented in the criminal courtroom.

In a critical turn of events, a key witness revoked his testimony in September. That man had told authorities that he had seen the men remove the urns from their vehicle and grind up the containers for scrap metal sales. The witness in the case said that he was coerced by police officers, as he was already in jail and wanted to get a better deal on his own theft charge. Further, that witness said his memory was foggy because of illegal drug use.

It is still not clear whether the man recanted his testimony because he was pressured by police; he may have also been pushed by other inmates to modify his testimony. The loss of that key witness could have serious implications for the future impact of this theft case.

Defendants who are facing felony theft charges may not know where to turn. A criminal defense attorney can help defendants learn more about their legal options in theft cases, including choices for plea agreements and appeals. These skilled professionals can guide a defendant through the entire legal process, taking steps to maximize the outcome of the proceedings.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "First trial in urn theft case set for next week" Rob Parsons, Jan. 09, 2014

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