Fate of shooters’ girlfiend in limbo | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Fate of shooters’ girlfiend in limbo

Rob Bhatt

Possible criminal charges against Melody Pauole, the girlfriend of a South Lake Tahoe man killed after opening fire on police, are temporarily on hold.

El Dorado County Municipal Court Judge Jerald Lasarow is reviewing an objection to the charges raised by the defendant’s attorney, David Rogers, deputy public defender.

Rogers contends prosecutors failed to obtain enough evidence needed to charge his client and seeks the allegations dismissed.

Pauole, 24, is accused of helping her husband, Scott Richards, escape from South Lake Tahoe police officers attempting to serve an arrest warrant Jan. 28 at the couple’s Bobby Gray Circle home.

In a legal brief filed Monday, Rogers contends the prosecution has failed to demonstrate any evidence besides the defendant’s own statements that implicate his client.

California law requires prosecutors to find at least slight evidence independent of a defendant’s own statements to charge that defendant with a crime.

Prosecutor Michael Atwell, deputy district attorney, has yet to file his response.

Lasarow is scheduled to decide on March 26 whether Pauole will be put on trial for one alleged felony count of harboring a fugitive. The maximum sentence a conviction could carry is three years in state prison.

Pauole, her boyfriend and the couple’s four children were in the Bobby Gray Circle house when police arrived at about 5 p.m. on the evening of the incident to serve a felony arrest warrant on Richards.

Richards, 26, refused to surrender and instead barricaded himself in the house with his family for about three hours.

Pauole and the four children were eventually allowed to leave.

At the time, police believed Richards was still in the house. Officers maintained a siege around the property for nearly 12 hours and only discovered Richards had fled after they entered to find the house unoccupied.

Pauole reportedly told a police detective, after Richards was killed, that her husband had planned to exit from a bedroom window at the same time she and the children left the house.

The following afternoon, detective were alerted to Richards traveling in his mother’s pickup truck and began following the truck.

Richards’ mother stopped the truck on Johnson Avenue near Safeway. Richards, wearing a bulletproof vest, stepped out of the truck and fired at officers, who shot back and killed him with a bullet to the head.

“(Pauole) enabled (Richards) to escape from that cabin the night before he was killed,” Assistant District Attorney Sean O’Brien said last week. “Had the police known the truth, they may have been able to capture him. Had (officers) been able to confront (Richards) in another place at another time, maybe it would have ended more peacefully.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.