‘Red-bearded thief’ was convicted of assaulting an officer

Colin Atagi | Democratic Party Press

Facing at least 300 years in prison for a burglary along the Mendocino County coast, the man known as the “Red Beard Theft” will avoid trial under a plea agreement with possible prosecutors forced him behind bars only 25 years old. many years.

William Evers, the target of a months-long manhunt, agreed to a plea agreement Friday in Mendocino County Superior Court, pleading guilty to one count of assaulting a peace officer.

The deal puts an end to a case that began about 15 months ago with authorities searching for an elusive suspect behind a string of home break-ins in a remote area in western Mendocino County between Ukiah and the coast.

Evers, 40, was involved in a series of burglaries dating back to December 2020 and the assault allegation stemmed from a May 12 shootout with the Mendocino County sheriff, who was investigating a road burglary. Cameron near the seaside town of Elk.

He has been in custody since November 4 and will know his sentence at a March 24 hearing, where a judge could sentence him to 25 years in prison because he has two previous convictions.

In March 2007 he was found guilty of burglary in Humboldt County and in October 2014 he was found guilty of threatening a crime in Shasta County.

“He’s a better performer in the prison scene and we’ll give him a chance there,” Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster said after Friday’s hearing in Ukiah.

The Mendocino County Office of Public Protection did not respond to a request for comment.

A preliminary hearing is initially scheduled for Friday so prosecutors can present evidence to determine whether Evers is eligible to stand trial on 19 counts of criminal activity.

Instead, discussion focused on the assault allegation, which was not included in the most recent complaint, and 19 other charges that were dismissed.

Under the plea agreement, victims will be allowed to pursue rehabilitation and charges can be maintained on Evers’ criminal record.

If tried on those 19 counts, Evers could face at least 300 years in prison if convicted of each of them.

Mendocino County Deputy District Attorney Eloise Kelsey said she was “100 percent certain” that there was enough evidence to bring Evers to trial if the preliminary hearing took place.

After Friday’s hearing, Kelsey said, “Efficiency and quick case resolution has always been a known benefit.”

Evers sat quietly during Friday’s hearing, wearing a gray and white striped suit with a red beard protruding under a blue mask.

He answered “yes” when Judge Keith Faulder asked if he understood the terms of his plea agreement and was escorted out of the courtroom after a few minutes of proceedings.

Investigators said Evers broke into several empty homes to seek shelter, food and supplies near Ukiah and the towns of Philo, Elk and Albion.

He was arrested on November 4 after spending most of last year living in the Mendocino County woods.

In a prison interview with The Press Democrat, Evers said he moved to Arizona to be near his parents under law enforcement supervision in late 2020.

He bought methamphetamine and left it in a motel room where he was staying. He returned to a locked room and, fearing the drugs had been discovered, he fled to avoid arrest for violating a parole order.

A Redding native, Evers said he took a Greyhound bus to Ukiah in December 2020 and spent months searching for vacant homes that could provide accommodation and supplies.

One criminal complaint mentions 15 burglaries at 13 locations but Eyster says many more may have occurred. At least once, Kelsey added, he watched a house and waited for its owner to leave before entering.

Victims are expected to provide statements during Evers sentencing and provide more insight into what was stolen from their homes.

The suit includes one count of attempted murder stemming from a gun exchange in May with Sheriff Thomas Kelly. Also included are two counts of vandalism and one count of grand theft.

Evers denied attempted murder and told The Press Democrat that he fired one shot into the air and had no intention of harming the co-pilot.

Eyster countered that claim on Friday and reiterated the gun was never found.

The search for Evers dragged on for months, and he appeared almost exclusively in grainy surveillance footage circulated by authorities.

The case is reminiscent of the 2011 hunt for Aaron Bassler, who shot two people down and spent days hiding in the backwoods before snipers killed him after a near 36-day manhunt. Fort Bragg – 17 miles north of Albion.

At the time, his family said the Fort Bragg native was mentally ill and that his behavior had become increasingly threatening before he had lived in the woods for months.

Evers estimates he socialized with five people last year before his arrest and was conflicted about whether to run away or stay to chat.

He was arrested after an Albion resident saw him on Albion Ridge Road on November 3 and contacted authorities, who spotted him from afar before he fled. They returned the next morning and arrested Evers after a chase.

Prosecutors allege he intended to avoid arrest and even made a hole in a cabin so he could evade authorities.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/02/25/mendocino-countys-red-bearded-burglar-convicted-of-assault-on-peace-officer/ ‘Red-bearded thief’ was convicted of assaulting an officer

Joel McCord

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