Paso Robles murder trial begins next week
June 29, 2015
With the murder trial of Paso Robles man Thomas Yanaga set to begin next week, attorneys are attempting to paint both the defendant and the victim as men with violent pasts. [Tribune]
Yanaga, 52, shot and killed Atascadero resident Marshall Savoy, 32, on March 14. Yanaga says he did so in self defense. Prosecutors say he overreacted during an argument.
On April 8, Yanaga gained release from San Luis Obispo County Jail after posting $1 million bail. Six days later, Kings County Sheriff’s deputies arrested him, along with two other suspects, for participating in the shooting of a Hanford man during an argument over the sale of a motorcycle.
Kings County deputies charged Yanaga with attempted murder, participating in a street gang and committing a new felony and a new offense while out on bail. The prosecution is requesting that testimony on the Central Valley shooting be admitted as part of the trial.
Yanaga’s attorney, Ilan Funke Bilu, says no witness has identified Yanaga as being at the scene of the Kings County shooting. Yanaga has repeatedly denied being awake when the Central Valley shooting occurred, Funke-Bilu wrote in a court document.
Funke-Bilu is trying to introduce evidence that details Savoy’s history of violence. Savoy was convicted of felony assault for a 2007 incident in which he sucker punched a man from behind, according to a motion filed by Funke-Bilu.
The motion also states Savoy twice punched man in face and did not leave the man’s house until a gun was drawn. Additionally, Savoy threw a remote control at the mother of his two children, then grabbed her by the throat and slapped her in the face after she called 911, Funke-Bilu states.
Prosecutors say that, on March 14, Savoy was visiting a friend who lived on Yanaga’s property when he heard Yanaga arguing with his wife. During the argument, Yanaga grabbed a gun and shot Savoy multiple times, prosecutors say.
Savoy’s friend and witness to the shooting, Ashley Moss, 25, testified that Savoy attempted to get the couple to stop fighting. Yanaga then went into the kitchen, put a magazine in his gun, yelled at Savoy to look at him and shot him repeatedly, Moss said.
Funke-Bilu argues that Savoy entered Yanaga’s residence uninvited and challenged Yanaga to a fight. Savoy tried to “honor” Yanaga’s wife by assaulting her husband, or he attempted to steal Yanaga’s truck, Funke-Bilu states.
Yanaga is currently in San Luis Obispo County Jail, where he is being held without bail.
Trial is scheduled to begin July 6. Yanaga could face 50 years to life in prison if convicted of the murder.