Paso Robles murder suspect pleads not guilty

March 19, 2015
Thomas Nolan Yanaga

Thomas Nolan Yanaga

A Paso Robles man said he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed an “intruder” Saturday morning.

Thomas Yanaga, 52, plead not guilty to murder and an enhancement for causing great bodily injury with a firearm on Wednesday. His attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, said Yanaga was protecting his family when he shot Marshall Savoy, 32, of Atascadero.

But Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham, who reviewed the evidence, said the shooting appears to be murder, not self-defense.

Witnesses at the rural Paso robles home also tell very different stories. At the time of the shooting, Thomas Yanaga, his wife Joyce Yanaga, Thomas Yanaga’s 17-year-old son, Savoy’s friend Ashley Moss, 25, and Savoy were on the property. However, the teenager never left his room.

After Thomas Yanaga shot Savoy multiple times in the abdomen and chest, Joyce Yanaga called 911 and said her husband had shot an intruder.

Sheriff deputies arrived shortly after midnight and found Savoy’s bullet ridden body in the driveway.

Yanaga told deputies that he was in the garage smoking with his wife when Savoy intruded and demanded his car keys. Yanaga said he begged Savoy to leave his home, but Savoy charged at him in the kitchen. Yanaga told police he did not mean to shoot Savoy. [Tribune]Marshall Savoy and Ashley Moss

Joyce and Thomas Yanaga told deputies Moss lived in a fifth-wheeler on the property.

Moss tells a very different story.

Moss said she moved into a spare room in the Yanagas’ home a week before the shooting. She says she was not living in the fifth-wheeler, though she and Savoy were in the trailer talking on Friday night when they heard the Yanagas get into a heated argument.

Moss said Yanaga was attempting to get the pair to stop fighting when Yanaga went into the kitchen, put a magazine into his gun, yelled for Savoy to look at him, and then shot him repeatedly. Moss said Yanaga then asked his wife to call 911 and say Savoy was an intruder.

After the shooting, Savoy walked out of the garage and collapsed on the driveway in front of Moss. Afraid for her life, Moss said she hid near the back door.

After a while, Moss entered the home unnoticed by officers and went into her room to sleep, she said. In the morning, Moss said she spoke with deputies who were still at the house and explained that she had witnessed the shooting.

Yanaga is being held without bail at the San Luis Obispo County Jail.

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9 Comments

  1. Dexter says:

    One can assume the deputies have blood samples of both the deceased and the suspect.

    If the suspect’s blood tests positive for meth as sugested by the witness then he is in deep sh#t.

    We can speculate all we want but time will tell.

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  2. 805code4 says:

    Who goes to sleep after witnessing a homicide? Furthermore, I have great difficulty imagining a realistic scenario where a person could have a place to sleep undisturbed within the boundaries of a homicide investigation. Not with the hyper-vigilance of OUR S.L.O.S.O.

    (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down
  3. LAWMAN1 says:

    Hmmmm. How could you possibly go to sleep when you just witnessed a murder?
    I think the neighbor that states he has seen Savoy there numerous times before will be more creatable then Moss?
    and the 17 year old Son just stayed in his room through the sound of gun fire?

    Tommy. your bail is only $100,000.00, why aren’t you out? I thought you were a baller?

    (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
    • my.02 says:

      He knows he’s greenlit. Thinks he’s safer where he is.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  4. justbeware says:

    Of course he’s pleading not guilty.
    Does anyone ever plead guilty anymore?

    (11) 11 Total Votes - 11 up - 0 down
  5. SpeakTruth says:

    Problems with this article:

    “Yanaga told deputies that he was in the garage smoking with his wife when Yanaga intruded and demanded his car keys.”

    – I think you meant when Savoy intruded, not Yanaga.

    “Moss said Yanaga was attempting to get the pair to stop fighting”

    – Should probably be “Moss said Savoy”, not Yanaga, or perhaps she meant Mrs. Yanaga? Unclear.

    (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  6. Stunned says:

    Hmmmm….wait a minute now. There’s a significant crime scene and the gal pal sneaks by the sea of police and goes night night then hours later decides she witnessed the event?

    (10) 10 Total Votes - 10 up - 0 down
    • Cindy says:

      I have to agree that something doesn’t sound right. I a previous article, Moss admits that
      she is a meth addict and that Savoy was talking to her in his trailer that evening about wanting
      to immediately drive her to a re-hab house. If she was using meth, I doubt that she went to sleep
      and how the hell does someone go to sleep after seeing something so horrific?

      I think the truth here falls someplace in the middle.

      (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
      • agag1 says:

        Agreed.
        Never mind falling asleep, how could anyone stay put, knowing there’s a crazy man with a gun nearby?
        Wouldn’t you run for your life the minute you thought the coast was clear, or seek the protection of the police once you heard sirens?

        (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down

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