Malmstrom died from stabbing, sheriff says
A Linda man whose body was found in his North Beale Road apartment was a homicide victim, Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor said Wednesday.
The body of Scott Dana Malmstrom, 47, was found Saturday at the Beale Star Apartments.
An autopsy Tuesday showed Malmstrom was stabbed with a sharp instrument, Durfor said.
The state Department of Justice positively identified the decomposed body through fingerprints.
"Investigators consider the case a homicide and believe there are additional witnesses who have not come forward," Durfor said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Tip Line at 530 749-7930. Callers may remain anonymous.
Department of Justice investigators are still processing evidence found at the scene, Durfor said.
Department spokeswoman Melanie Oakes said she could not comment on a possible motive or suspect in the case.
A Beale Star Apartments resident, Noreen Weems, said she saw Malmstrom uncharacteristically arguing with a man about five days before he was found dead. The other man, who had long, braided hair and appeared to be in his 40s, had been seen at the complex a couple of times before, she said.
The argument may have been over something in a brown paper bag that Malmstrom had just bought at a nearby liquor store where he was a frequent customer, said Weems.
Weems said Malmstrom once fixed her vacuum cleaner and used to walk her dog for her. He did not work and apparently received some type of public assistance, she said.
According to a California Megan's Law Web site, Malmstrom was also a registered sex offender who'd been convicted of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 by force. ..Source.. by Rob Young
Murder trial starts in 2009 Linda stabbing
Jury selection began today in the trial of a Marysville man charged with the July 2009 fatal stabbing of Scott Dana Malmstrom at a Linda apartment.
Todd Allen Cole Jr., 26, allegedly stabbed the 47-year-old Malmstrom 17 times. He is charged with first-degree murder.
Malmstrom's neighbors at the Beale Star Apartments, 1485 North Beale Road, called authorities after noticing a foul odor. According to testimony at Cole's preliminary hearing in December, Malmstrom's body may have been in his apartment for as long as five days in 90-degree-plus heat. ..Source..
Mistrial declared in Yuba County murder trial
A Yuba County judge declared a mistrial Friday in the second-degree murder case of Todd Allen Cole Jr. after jurors said they were "completely torn."
A prosecutor called the evidence against Cole "pretty compelling," but jurors deliberated two days without reaching a verdict.
Cole's fingerprints and footprints were found in the blood of victim Scott Malmstrom, whose decomposed body was found July 25, 2009, in his North Beale Road apartment.
Asked by Judge Kathleen O'Connor what the vote breakdown was without saying which way jurors voted, the jury forewoman said before O'Connor cut her off that there were 10 votes to convict Cole.
The forewoman declined comment as she left the courthouse, as did other jurors.
The lead prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney John Vacek, said Cole will be retried. A trial date is scheduled to be set Wednesday.
Cole's attorney, Chief Deputy Public Defender Brian Davis, and Deputy District Attorney Shiloh Sorbello met with jurors behind closed doors to discuss their votes.
Davis asked an Appeal-Democrat reporter to leave at the request of some of the jurors.
Jurors had the option of finding Cole guilty of voluntary manslaughter instead of second-degree murder, an option opposed by prosecutors, Sorbello said. But the issue that led to the hung jury was more of "who done it," he said.
The two jurors who voted not to convict apparently were not sure beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Cole in Malmstrom's apartment, not someone else, even though they didn't seem to have any particular person in mind, Sorbello said.
One witness said that shortly before Malmstrom's death, she saw him having an argument with a lanky, ponytailed Hispanic man. Cole told a fellow inmate in Yuba County Jail that he and his brother had stabbed a child molester.
Malmstrom was convicted of child molestation in Placer County.
Sorbello credited Davis with planting enough reasonable doubt in the minds of some jurors to cause the hung jury.
"He did what he needed to do," Sorbello said.
In his closing argument to jurors, Davis said state Department of Justice investigators should have taken more blood samples from the apartment. Some of the blood could have come from someone else, he said.
"Everything seemed obvious to them, so why go to the bother?" Davis said.
Malmstrom was stabbed or slashed 17 times. Blood was on the floor, walls and ceiling.
"No one knows beyond all doubt that happened in Scott Malmstrom's apartment. There are other ways this reasonably could have happened," Davis said.
The prosecution's case consisted entirely of circumstantial evidence — no witnesses, no videotape, he said.
Davis called one prosecution witness, Brian Brand, a white supremacist gang member, "a snitch. He didn't even have the guts to sit here in front of you and tell you what he has to stay," Davis said.
At a December preliminary hearing, Brand testified Cole talked to him in jail about stabbing a child molester. In the trial, he said he couldn't remember.
Vacek said Brand feared retaliation for being a snitch.
By talking to Brand, Cole may have been stupid or bragging or "a punk sucking up to the real deal" whose white supremacist gang, the Peckerwoods, might protect him in prison, Vacek told jurors.
Vacek acknowledged that evidence was largely circumstantial, including forensic evidence such as Cole's fingerprints and footprints in Malmstrom's blood.
"But it's a pretty compelling circumstantial case when you look at it," he told jurors.
Cole's fingerprints in Malmstrom's blood were found on the control rod for vertical blinds on the living room window, evidence that he didn't want anyone to see what had just happened, said Vacek.
"What other reasonable explanation is there" for the bloody prints, Vacek asked. "What reasonable person goes inside and wades in blood? Who sees this and doesn't call the cops?"
The struggle apparently was the most violent near the window and door, with blood spurting from Malmstrom's severed carotid artery, Vacek said.
A bloody knife blade, broken from its handle, was found near the window. That apparently happened when Malmstrom was stabbed in the back of the neck and the blade hit bone, he said.
When Malmstrom's body was found, the left pants pocket was turned out and he had no wallet. Malmstrom liked to flash a roll of cash, a Yuba County detective testified earlier. ..Source.. by Rob Young
No retrial, defendant pleads no contest in East Linda slaying
Facing retrial on a second-degree murder charge, Todd Allen Cole Jr. has pleaded no contest to the voluntary manslaughter of an East Linda man.
Scott Malmstrom was found stabbed and slashed to death July 25, 2009, at the Beale Star Apartments on North Beale Road.
Cole entered the plea Monday before Yuba County Judge Kathleen O'Connor and faces a 14-year prison sentence, said the lead prosecutor in the case, Deputy District Attorney John Vacek.
Vacek said Cole's knowledge that 11 jurors voted to convict him "may have softened him up a bit."
At the end of the July trial, a jury foreperson told the judge that 10 jurors had voted to convict.
"We were ready for a retrial when this came up" on Monday, Vacek said about the plea.
Malmstrom was killed "in the heat of passion," Vacek said.
"I never thought (Cole) went into the apartment with the intent of killing Scott Malmstrom. Something happened to set him off," Vacek said.
A pathologist testified that Malmstrom had 17 wounds on his body, including a slashed carotid artery. Blood was found on the floor, walls and ceiling.
Cole's fingerprints and footprints were found in Malmstrom's blood.
Jurors in the July trial had the option of convicting Cole of either second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter but deadlocked after two days of deliberation.
Some jurors thought someone else may have been involved in Malmstrom's death, Deputy District Attorney Shiloh Sorbello said at the time.
Earlier on the day he is believed to have been killed, Malmstrom, a convicted child molester, mentioned to Cole that they shared the same parole agent. Cole became angry, according to testimony.
A white supremacist gang member testified that Cole bragged in jail about killing a child molester.
Malmstrom was known to carry a roll of cash. His pants pocket was found turned out on the day his decomposed body was found.
The day after Malmstrom apparently died, Cole and his girlfriend had enough cash to move into an East Marysville apartment. The girlfriend and Cole's brother testified the cash came from other sources.
Cole is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 20. The 14-year sentence includes time for two prior convictions and for using a knife in Malmstrom's killing, Vacek said. ..Source.. by Rob Young