UKIAH 2/2/2017 — Four suspects in the killing of Jeffrey Settler appeared in court on Thursday morning, where the judge set a date for them to enter their pleas. The suspects were originally scheduled to enter their pleas today, but lawyers told presiding Judge John Behnke that there was still discovery to be done. They will appear in court March 2 to enter a plea.
Jeffrey Settler, a Laytonville cannabis grower, was killed at his farm on November 11, 2016. The suspects who appeared in court on Thursday morning were Zachary Wuester, 24,who surrendered to the sheriff’s office on November 14; Gary Fitzgerald, 23, who was arrested in Ukiah on November 25; Abdirahman Said Mohamed, 28, who was arrested in San Diego on December 7; and Michael Kane, 26, who surrendered at the border of California and Mexico on January 16.
Additional suspects Frederick Gaestel, 27, of Clifton, New Jersey, Gary Blank III, 34 of Garberville, and Jesse Wells, 33, of Laytonville, are still at large.
Kane’s attorney, Ethan Balogh of San Francisco, told the judge that he had received CD’s and thumb drives pertaining to the case in discovery last week. He added that he had received three more items on Thursday morning, the day of his court appearance. Deputy District Attorney Joshua Rosenfeld, who is prosecuting the case, agreed that there is still “significant discovery” to be made.
On March 2, the four suspects are scheduled to enter a plea and arrange a date for a preliminary hearing. Each of the defendants has a separate attorney. Patrick Pekin, of Fort Bragg, is defending Wuester. William Conwell, of Lakeport, is representing Fitzgerald. Mohamed is represented by the Public Defender’s office.
Previous coverage of the Settler homicide and case developments can be found here.
Sarah Reith [email protected]